One of the first major transitions in life that your child will make is starting school for the very first time. Unless they have older siblings, the whole process could seem pretty alien and scary for them. They may never have even set in foot within school grounds before now. But it needn’t fill them, or you with fear.
There are many books about starting school that will provide a great opportunity to answer any questions and allay any fears but also, to encourage excitement and enthusiasm about their first day. There can be many reasons for a child to be worried which you may not have even thought about. They may be concerned about something as simple as trouble they’re having making friends or building a good working relationship with their teacher. Encouraging them to talk about how they’re feeling about their new school will hopefully bring these concerns out in the open and they can be simply put to rest.
Remember to talk about school in a positive way at all times. If older brothers or sisters are having problems at school it is a good idea to keep conversations about this away from the ears of the new starter. Think about how you ask your child questions: “Are you looking forward to making new friends?” paints a better mental picture than “Are you worried about not knowing anybody?” Also, having a child starting school can be a stressful time for parents as well, particularly if you are used to be at home with them during the day. Try not to let your fears or anxieties rub off onto your child. Instead, talk about looking forward to the time you will have when they come home and hearing about what they have been up to during the day.
Try and ensure your child is as independent as possible when it comes to fastening shoes and getting changed for P.E. Little things such as these can cause great anxiety when their usual carer isn’t about to help out and they will feel a lot more grown up if they can do it themselves. It may also help if they can master some simple tasks such as sitting quietly, writing their name and maybe counting to 10. The teacher will not necessarily expect this but it will give the child a bit of confidence in class.
A fail safe way of creating excitement for school year is to go out shopping for all the things they need. Once all the necessary uniform items have been bought your child will have fun choosing more personal items, such as a back pack or pencil case with their favorite character on, and then filling them with all the equipment they need, such as colouring pencils and rubbers etc…
It may have come as a bit of a shock to the system to go from a lazy morning in front of the television in their pyjamas to up getting up early, getting dressed and out of the house before nine o’clock! The more familiar everything becomes, the easier it will be and reintroducing some structure to their days after the carefree days of the holidays will stand them in good stead for future.
And lastly, you may be finding they are very tired during the first few days, or even weeks. They will encounter many new things and have to remember new routines and rules. This can all be very mentally exhausting. Allow some quiet time when they get home before asking them too much about their day and don’t worry if they ask to take a little nap when they may not usually.
This is an exciting stage in your child’s life and one that should go smoothly, but do not be afraid to have a chat with the class teacher if there are any concerns that you are unable to resolve yourself. They are just as keen for your child to be happy in their care as you are.
By Claire Fisher