Start school with a smile

For both parents and children, starting ‘big school’ is a big deal.

Even if your child has been involved in a school transition program, the challenge to become more independent can try even the most confident child and pull on a heart-strings for parents.

Here are a few things you can do to help prepare for child, as suggested by government-sponsored website raisingchildren.net.au:

  • Explain basic school rules, such as putting up your hand, asking before going to the toilet, and listening quietly.
  • Make sure your child knows where you’ll be picking them up.
  • Have your child try on the uniform and shoes before the first day, to make sure everything fits and to wear new school shoes for a few days before school starts.
  • Make sure your child has all the extras – bag, hat, art smock, library bag and so on.
  • Have a practice run with the lunch box to make sure your child can take off the lid (ideally in the shop before you buy it).

That will help with the practical side of things, but emotions can run riot on both sides until your child settles in. Tips include:

  • Try to organise playdates with other children starting in the same class; familiar faces will help on the first day.
  • Think about how you’ll manage your feelings on the first day. Even if you’re feeling sad or worried, it can help to keep these feelings from your child. Instead, try to see your child off with a happy, confident goodbye.
  • Read a children’s book about starting school with your child – this can help you talk with your child about their feelings.
  • Connect with other parents – they may have helpful hints.

During the first few weeks, provide support by:

  • Dropping off and collecting your child at school on time. If you’re late it could make your child feel very anxious.
  • Making after-school time a bit special, with a snack and time for the two of you to chat.
  • Being patient if your child wants to blurt out every little detail about school, or clams up completely. You could try saying something like, ‘Tell me one good thing about your day’, rather than asking lots of questions.
  • Remembering that it’s normal for children to play with lots of different children, and even to play on their own sometimes. It takes a while before they settle into a group of friends.
  • Limiting after-school activities during the first term. Your child will probably be very tired.

If your child doesn’t seem to be settling well, or reports teasing or bullying, speak to your child’s classroom teacher.

Originally published by Hills News

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