Starting school? You are braver than you think!
Starting school for the first time can be more nerve wracking for you than your child. Here are some hints on how to manage the next step in your child’s life.
1. Relaxed chat about school
Talk about school with your child in the weeks and days before school starts in a relaxed way. If you are not sure where to start, reading a book about starting school may be helpful. Here is a useful list of starting school books.
2. Testing testing!
Let them try on the new school uniform, coat and shoes. This allows them to get used to putting them on and taking them off. Ask them to take a tour round the house and praise them for looking so smart. Make sure they test opening and closing their new bag, lunch box and pencil case. This means they won’t have difficulty using them on their first day. Add a name label in the inside of their bag and coat and show them how to identify their own belongings.
3. Good Morning Mrs…
Do you remember your first teacher? Children often have very fond memories of their first teacher. Make sure they know the name of their teacher. Let your child know that if they feel tired or sad they can tell their teacher.
Before your child starts school tell your child who will be dropping them off and who will be picking them up from school. Children are reassured by routines and knowing that Mum, Gramps or Johnny’s mummy will be picking them up is a comfort. If you go past the school, point it out and show them where you will be dropping them off and meeting them. Doing this during during a typical shopping routine will help your child to feel more familiar with their school.
5. Toilet training
If you have any concerns that your child will feel anxious about using the toilet at school mention it to their teacher. Ask the teacher to remind your child about going to the toilet and pop a pair of spare pants in their bag in case they have an accident. For other life skills your child should have before starting school see 5 things your child should know before starting school.
6. Planning an exit
Decide what you are going to do when you take your child to school and how you will leave. For example, first day go in and show your child which peg to put their coat on, show them where the toilets are and take them to their seat. Second day, take them to their peg and seat. Third day take them to their peg. If you are feeling anxious yourself, be strong and don’t take too long to leave. If you like, have a special sign off for school, a sweet high five, or simple kiss and ‘see you later’.
7. Dealing with a distressed child
If your child gets upset when you leave have a chat with their teacher about the best way to deal with it. Most teachers will have experience in dealing with children who are upset when mummy or daddy leaves and will be armed with a few tactics to ease your child. Most children will stop crying within ten to twenty minutes. Ask the teacher if you can call the school later on to check that he or she is ok. Remember the more confident you are about your child starting school the more confident they will be. Keep the tears and hankies for when you get back home.
8. Dealing with your feelings
It is normal for parents of young children to get the ‘starting-school blues’. You may even feel a little bit lost as you see your little one venturing further from the nest. Remember it is okay to have a cry, just don’t do it in front of your child. Think about the extra special cuddle your child will get when they return home. They will probably be tired when they come home so let them have some quiet time and a big hug from Mum. Sometimes it helps to talk, so arrange to meet up for a cup of tea with a friend or mum of another first timer.
More on starting school
Graphic: Ana Starhan