Starting school is a new experience that everyone, child or parent, experience in a different way. No school journey is the same and therefore you sometimes need a helping hand when starting the process. If you have never experienced your child starting school for the first time, then this guide is a quick and easy great read for you.
School being a positive topic of conversation
Some children struggle with change; understandably school transitioning is a difficult time. However, the process of change can be simple and easier to deal with if they are tackled with early, by making the topic of school a daily or weekly positive conversation within your household through many different activities.
Here are six simple yet useful tips:
Changing their bed time book to their new school’s brochure. Creating excitement and a positive image, just like a bed time story.
Highlighting that their friends from Pre-school or childminders are going to be there, and discuss all the fun things they will be able to play with together. Demonstrating that there isn’t going to be a massive change
Create a game out of their new morning routine: waking up, having breakfast and getting dressed into their new uniform. This means they are practicing their new routine but it is also made fun & exciting
Ask them questions- How do they feel about school? Are there any concerns or worries? & even better, let them ask you questions. But make sure you don’t display signs of nervousness, as they will pick up on that.
Start discussing the school transition early, starting sooner rather than later means the move is less drastic. Plus, it makes the future change easier for both of you to get prepared for and used to.
Look back at old photos of yourself at school or their older siblings- demonstrating that everyone has to go to school and that everyone has fun
If your child has never attended childcare or pre-school before going to big school, they may struggle with the adjustments of not relying on their parents all the time. To make the adjustments easier, you can focus on and practice the hardest tasks:
Lunch Time- Whether they have packed lunches or canteen, spend time practicing feeding themselves. If they are going to have a lunch box, make lunch at home fun by letting them have their lunch out of their new and exciting lunch boxes
Washing & Drying Hands- Make sure to highlight hand washing, school is busy and a rush therefore highlighting hand washing is important as they will very easily forget during the excitement of new friends and lunch time, especially if their mum isn’t nagging them to wash their hands!
Using the Toilet- Spend time practicing the easiest and most efficient way of going to the toilet, e.g. undressing and re-dressing themselves, and wiping correctly
Personal Hygiene- Discussing simple things like using a tissue when they have a runny nose or sneeze and putting their hand over their mouth when they cough. Plus, washing their hands after blowing their nose, sneezing and going to the toilet
Keeping Tidy- Tidying up at the end of the day, or before lunch will be an important part of their first few years at school. Therefore, emphasizing keeping their bedrooms clean or tidying up their toys at the end of the day is an easy way to ease them into cleaning up after themselves at school
Responsibilities- As they get closer to school, you could start giving them little jobs around the house to highlight their importance and also to show them that they will have to help others when at school
Getting Dressed- Learning to get dressed without their parent’s help is very important as they will have physical education some days and therefore will need to be able to get themselves ready quickly.
Therefore, spending time teaching them how to get dressed is very important and can be done when they are practicing their new morning routine (in the section above)
Your own ‘Personal Survival Checklist’ for the weeks ahead
Knowing drop-off and pick-up times
Where the drop-off and pick-up points are
Who is picking up and dropping off your child: if you have a childminder do they know that they are doing school runs, and does your child know who will be picking them up. In the first few weeks, teachers will be very aware of who is picking up and dropping off their pupils. Therefore, its best to also make sure they are aware that multiple different people will be collecting/dropping-off your child.
Do you have all the necessary equipment and uniform- PE Kit, book bag, enough school uniform etc.
Do you know if school canteen is provided or if your child has to take their own lunch? If you have to provide a lunch, do you have a lunch box ready and are you aware of other school children having allergies and therefore are aware of foods you can and cannot pack in their lunchbox.
Is everything name ready? Making sure every piece of uniform and equipment has your child’s surname on it is a great way of making sure nothing of theirs gets lost or taken by another pupil by accident. – this is also a great way of helping your child learn their own name, and can be something you practice over time.
Finally, do you know what day school starts and what time? Some school’s may do half days to settle their pupils in, therefore make sure your work timetable is ready for the first few weeks ahead
What to Expect During the First Few Weeks
Every child reacts differently in their first few weeks, so there are different things you could expect:
Influenced by Other Children-
As they are starting a new school and meeting new children, they can easily be influenced by other children and therefore be prepared for answering back or saying things they would never normally say. But you can nip this in the bud by highlighting the fact that this behavior is not tolerated at home etc. If their behavior is really worrying you, feel free to go into school and speak to their teacher about these changes.
Expect Behavior Change-
Some children may find it difficult to deal with the transition of being away from their parents for a long period of time. So be prepared for your child to become clingy and upset in the mornings when saying good bye, or not wanting to get up and get ready for school.
Finally, remember to keep an open mind and be prepared for all different eventualities.
Remember that every child reacts differently to big school and some will find it easier than others, but if your child is struggling, don’t let this stress you out as over time they will quickly adapt and fit in well.
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