If you have a child starting school, it can be an emotional time. Especially if it is the first time you’ve sent a kid off into formal education. Suddenly they have to wear a school uniform, they will soon start to learn to read and write, and you will have to pay a premium on your holidays for at least the next 11 years.
Often it seems much more momentous for the parents, especially if the child is used to going to nursery most days anyway. For them, it is just a case of meeting up with their mates in a different location. But for you, it seems like a huge step. Indeed, most of the tears on the first day are from parents rather than children.
School should be exciting for children. Yes, many of us have bad memories of school, but that rarely relates to these early years. Reception especially is a great opportunity to play, learn, explore and enjoy themselves with new and old friends. Here are some tips to help you prepare if you have a child starting school.
Child starting school? Read these tips
Concentrate on excitement not nerves
It is great to work through emotions with children ahead of major events. However, when talking about how they are feeling before they start school, concentrate on the positives. Talk about how excited they are and what they are looking forward to. There is no need to introduce the notion of feeling nervous or worried. If they are, they will tell you when you talk about school. But let them lead that. They might not have even considered there was a reason to be nervous previously, so don’t plant that idea in their head.
Practise going on the school run
This is good for both the parent and the child starting school. Work out what the best route is and how long it will take you to get to school. Try to make it for the time they will normally have to be in school to get a feel for what your morning routine will be like.
This helps you with logistics and gets your child used to what their mornings will be like when they start school.
Practise putting on school uniform
Your child will likely have to change into PE kit and back into school uniform during their school day, so they need to get used to it. There will be fiddly buttons and zips that they might not be used to. Have some fun dress-up time where they practise putting their new uniform on. This will help with the act of getting dressed into it as well as wearing these new, strange clothes.
The school will stress this to you many times before they start school, but it bears repeating. You don’t understand how easy it is for kids in Reception (and higher up school too) to mix up their clothes as soon as they step through the door. Anyone who already has kids at school will be well aware of the buckets of unlabelled lost property that stacks up through the year.
If you don’t want to shell out for three new sets of school uniform within the first half term, stick name labels everywhere. Shirts, jumpers, shoes, water bottles…EVERYTHING.
Run through the toilet routine
You won’t be there to remind your child to wipe, flush and wash their hands when they start Reception. This means you need to instil these activities in the mind of the child starting school. Yes, they want to get back out and have fun, but they need to make sure they are being hygienic. Talk to your child about it in the run up to September. Remind them. Reward them for remembering. Talk to them about how important it is to do that every time they use the toilet.
This is one for parents. Relax. They will be more than fine. The teachers deal with new started every year and they know how to look out for anyone who is struggling with starting school. They will look after your child and they will have a brilliant time on their first day at school.