Is your little one starting school? Read these tips on helping them to settle in
The first day of primary school is a big step for every child
Starting school is a big step for any child, but there are ways to help them feel more comfortable as they begin this new phase in their lives.
With September looming, we've put together a list of tips on how to help your child in those nerve-racking days before school begins, on the first day and as they settle in to their new routine.
Before school starts
Get organised: Make sure you've got everything they need in time for your child's first day. Include them in decision making processes - even if it's just choosing a lunchbox - to get them excited about starting school. Label their clothes and show them where the label is, so they can check it themselves.
Talk about what they can expect: Explain to your child about school rules, routines and schedules so they know what to expect. Assure them that the teacher is there to help, and that you will be there at the end of every day to talk to them. You could even tell them a bit about your own experiences at school.
Become familiar with the school - Take a walk to school and show them the building while it's empty and not surrounded by people. Point out the gates, playground and where they'll be going in on their first day.
On their first day
Be prepared: Ensure everything is ready the night before and leave yourself enough time in the morning to enjoy the day, rather than rushing to get out of the door. Take time to snap a picture of the school starter on their very first day as a keepsake.
Dealing with separation anxiety: Reassure your little one that you will be returning to pick them up in a few hours' time to hear all about their big day, and make them aware that the teacher is there to help, if they need it.
If you're particularly concerned about your child settling in or you know there are problems at home which may affect their behaviour, just talk to the teacher. Remember, they are professionals and are used to dealing with all types of children who are starting school. They will call if there are any problems. Try to enjoy the rest of your day - without worrying too much!
Home time: Make sure you're not late when it comes to picking them up. You don't want them to be anxious that you're not there, and they will be excited to tell you all about their day. Set some quality time aside to have a chat about how things went, perhaps with an afternoon snack.
Change of scenery: Some pupils may be hesitant to be left alone
Make sure they get plenty of rest: Starting school is a big step and a huge change to a child's routine. Ensure that you are strict with bedtimes, as you don't want them to be tired and grumpy in the classroom the next day.
Stay organized: The first few weeks of school are hectic enough, so get into the habit of preparing everything you need the night before. Young children don't have a great sense of urgency, so getting them up in time to get them ready - without having to panic and rush them out of the house - will help things run more smoothly..
Let them make friends: Children build relationships naturally, so let this process happen. Organise 'play dates', but don't try to force him or her to be friends with someone they don't naturally bond with.
Keep talking: Set some time aside each day to ask about how school is going. Keep your questions simple and try to build up a good picture of what life at school is like, and if they are happy with it. Ensure they know to talk to a teacher if something is making them unhappy in class.
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