Most of us remember our first day at school, so here are a few tips to ensure it goes smoothly for you and your child.
Many schools have an Open Day where children can visit the school before September. They meet the teacher and new classmates. Your child may have already done this but due to COVID this is unlikely so, if not, be sure to visit the grounds of the school in advance of the ‘big day’. If you know someone else starting, arrange to meet parent and child in the park before September. Then your child arrives at the school yard to a familiar face and perhaps someone to sit with. I did this with my child and she asked me to leave!
However, I did not handle my eldest child’s first Montessori day as well. Her anxiety and my nervousness made it more difficult. Looking back I can see that the teacher was experienced and needed an opportunity to settle her without my presence. The longer we delay the more the anxious the child can become. Most children settle quickly. Learn from my mistake and know when to leave, timing is crucial! Children can pick up your anxieties. Teachers say it’s often the parent’s anxiety that makes things worse!
Let your child know you are confident that they can manage. ‘Ann, I know you will be fine and I can’t wait to hear all about it later’. Be calm and reassuring for the child to feel secure enough to separate from you. Then go as dawdling will only make matters worse.
If your child cries when you leave them, do not panic. The teacher will advise you what to do and is very experienced. Never ever disappear; always tell your child you are going and that you will be back. It is hard to leave but go and ask to be informed when your child has settled. You will be surprised how quickly they recover with the distraction of other children. Usually tears last between five to ten minutes for the first day or two. Certainly within a week you should find your child has settled. A final word: be early at pick up time as it is very stressful for a child not to see the parent immediately. Tell your child you are taking them for a juice after collection so they have something special to look forward to. Lots of reassurance and love helps in the early days.
If it is your first child starting school, you may be kept busy with smaller children, but when your last child starts school it can be emotional for a parent. Think in advance about this, are you going to increase your work hours, or indeed return to work? Perhaps, you have an opportunity to take up a hobby or interest. Join a club, or a class that interests you. Joining a School Committee offers support and valuable contacts in the years ahead.
|This article was written by Sheila O Malley. Sheila owns Practical Parenting and offers courses, 1 to 1 support and School Talks as well as Company talks on Parenting and wellbeing. See www.practicalparenting.ie for details. Book a One Day Saturday course from 10-4pm with a friend or partner and get the tips to need to support you in the hardest job you ever do!|