The first day at school is a milestone for both parents and child. Whilst you may be going through a mixture of emotions try not to pass on any anxieties to your child. Most children settle into school quickly but do not be concerned if it takes a little longer. Your child will soon settle down and grow to enjoy the company and activities. Indeed some children settle in well in September but are upset after the Halloween break or Christmas holidays. This is not unusual. If your child is upset when you bring them to school it is best if you leave the classroom. Your child will stop crying more quickly if you are not there. Parents often feel the wrench more acutely than the child. Children soon adapt to their new environment.
Many parents ponder over the ‘correct’ age for children to start school. Children are all different and what you decide for one may differ from your decision for another. You may have last minute worries but you have made your decision in terms of start age and school choice and you have made the best decision you can.
It helps if you can drop and pick up your child from school for the first few days, Many schools have a shorter day for a week or even a few weeks to ease the children in. Try and find out the last activity the children will engage in before going home as you can then tell your child that you will be back to pick him/her up after that activity, for example after the teacher has read a story.
Visit the school before the first day and meet the teacher with your child. Drive past the school before term starts. Park and walk around the school if you can to familiarise your child with his/her new surroundings.
Make sure your child knows how to use the toilet properly
When buying such items as a coat, lunch box or school bag, make sure your child can open and close them with ease. Make sure the drinks container does not leak. Little things (like soggy sandwiches) can sometimes upset your child. If your child cannot zip his/her coat take time to teach him/her. Footwear with velcro is preferable.
If there is any change to your schedule at home eg working late or studying, check that this has not adversely affected your child. Your child may notice your absence more than usual if it coincides with starting school.
Friendships are very important to your child. Invite your child’s new school friends to your home.
Spend time with your child each evening if you can. Language is central to the learning process. Talk and listen to your child.
Research has shown that an ability to identify rhyming words is an important pre-reading skill. Your child will learn nursery rhymes in school but you should teach some more at home. Reading to your child cultivates an interest in reading and hopefully in life-long learning.
You know your child best, if you have any concerns or questions talk to the teacher not only on the first day but through the first year and right throughout your child’s time in school.