Starting school is a big step for the whole family and children and their parents can often feel apprehensive about what this new stage will be like.
If you are preparing your child to start school, here are some helpful tips to consider:
1. Playgroup: Does your school run a playgroup you could attend to help your child become more familiar with the setting?
2. Will you have the opportunity to visit the classroom ahead of time?
Perhaps you could also locate the toilets and the water bubblers together while you’re there. Encourage your little one to practise unpacking his bag, sitting in the classroom and familiarize himself with the environment as much as possible.
3. Will you have a chance to meet your child’s teacher in advance?
A critical step to settling your child into school is encouraging a bond between your child and his teacher. If you have a chance to meet your child’s teacher ahead of time, consider taking a photo of your child and his teacher together. Then pop this photo on your fridge to help your child’s teacher become a familiar face in your home.
4. Does your child know anyone else starting school at the same time?
You’ll set him up for success if your child knows some friendly faces from the start.
5. Role-play some of the potentially challenging social situations at home.
For example: going to the teacher with a problem, joining in with a group who are playing together, responding appropriately when another child acts unkindly, etc.
6. Read books about starting school.
7. Practice all the little things that your child will now need to be able to do independently.
For example: tying his shoelaces, opening containers of food from his lunchbox, and refilling his water bottle.
8. Practice saying goodbyes.
Practicing your goodbyes is particularly important if your little one hasn’t attended childcare or preschool before.
All children will feel nervous about starting school. By familiarizing your child with their new environment and routine ahead of time, you’ll be easing this transition and setting your child up for success.
Dr. Kaylene Henderson is a medically trained Child Psychiatrist, popular parent educator and mother of three. Kaylene also shares her practical tips for parents on TV, radio, print media and with her engaged social media community. Visit A Dose of Awesomeness to download her online advice packs on a range of topics including anxiety, behaviour, meltdowns, school readiness and more. Together, we can help our kids to become more calm, kind and resilient… what could be more awesome?
* For simplicity, children are referred to using masculine pronouns (‘he’/‘him’) in this article, although the information equally applies to girls.