New experiences or changes can fill us with trepidation and apprehension. We can manage these feelings to ensure that we are not overwhelmed. The same goes for our child.
Routines and structures are very soothing as they create a sense of order when we are overwhelmed. Make sure that you are organised, as this will assist your child to feel comfortable about this new experience.
As a parent it is important that our concerns about our child starting school are not projected on to them. Making statements like " I will miss you" or " You are such a big boy/girl now, can be anxiety provoking. A child can be concerned about their parent being unhappy away from them or have the expectation around being "big" as translating to having to do work or be faced with experiences beyond them.
There needs to be a careful balance between promoting a positive expectation about school as well as acknowledging the child's apprehension.
Promote the positive aspects of the school environment, meeting friends, learning how to do things, getting to play games. Having visual information about their school, photos, notes, school website available, as this will assist the child to identify and connect with their new environment.
Communication with school is important but ensure this occurs without the child present. Email contact is best for teaching staff at the beginning of the year as it is a very busy time. Identify who the relevant individuals are to respond to your questions or concerns within the school community.
Attend orientation sessions, information sessions and social events. This is a great way to connect with families and become familiar with school community.
The diversity of children that present in any classroom is significant. Do not become alarmed if you feel your child is not at the same level as others or is not being enriched or extended. First term is the opportunity for the child to develop relationships with peers and teaching staff and learn to negotiate this new environment. Learning takes many forms and these are the very first weeks of a many years of formal education.
Here are some helpful tips for parents of a child who is about to start school.
To prepare your child:
Start good sleep routines
Read stories to children
On the first day and throughout the year:
Make sure they know pick up routine
Don’t overload their lunch box
Be organised and positive on the day
Once your child is seated you should leave
Give them time to download
Avoid ‘school chats’ before bed