Countdown to Starting School
Starting school is an exciting time. In the run up to the big first day, here are some recommendations for parents to help your child settle and make it less stressful.
Walk or drive past school and look for interesting things on the way. Point out appealing features such as the school playing fields or a local park you may visit. Discuss how you will go into school on the first morning. If your child seems anxious about school focus your discussions around what your child likes to do eg: riding the bikes.
Begin establishing routines that are compatible with school hours so it’s not such a shock to the system! Start trying to mirror the school day by getting up at school time, having lunch at 12 and setting the bedtime routine.
Wear uniform, new shoes, plimsolls and PE kit and practise any tricky fastenings. Don’t forget to label everything.
Practise separation routines during the holiday so if you leave them anywhere use a set phrase and action. The familiarity of this routine will reassure your child eg: “Have a lovely day, I will see you soon” (hug, high 5!).
Encourage independence in self-care skills such as toileting, hand washing, tidying up and self-feeding. If having a packed lunch practise using the lunch box opening it and taking the tops off, asking for help if needed, eating the lunch, preferably savoury first and tidying away.
Keep chatting positively about school and about how much fun it will be.
Read some books about starting school and give them the opportunity to discuss any worries. If your child has particular worries provide reassurance by discussing what to do and who to tell. Common worries are toileting, eating and separation. Teach phrases for making friends: “My name is…” “What is your name?” “Can I join in?”, “Shall we share?”
Share the welcome booklet and remind them of staff names. Practise what to say in key situations, such as: ‘Good morning Mrs…’ and ‘Please may I go to the toilet?’
Pack the PE bag and school bag together so they know exactly what is inside and include a spare pair of pants in case of accidents.
Finally, acknowledge the change in a positive way as something exciting and the next step. A child needs to feel their parent/carer is fine about the change and this will reflect in their confidence.