When your child starts school, it can bring a big change to your family life. Whether it be primary school or high school, the same steps of preparation apply and it is important that you support your child through this time. It is natural to feel sad and worried in case they are unhappy, won’t make friends or not enjoy the work.
Whilst supporting your child, you probably feel like you are putting on a happy or excited face when, in reality, you are just as nervous as them! Starting a new school stage is one of the biggest transitions in a child’s life, so it is worth putting your effort into supporting them through this stage.
Become Familiar With Their New School
In the months and weeks in the run-up, before they start school, it is a good idea to get your child used to the school environment. As well as getting used to new rules and routines, they will also need to find themselves around a new place, which can be daunting.
Ensure that they go on the school’s transition days or arrange a visit with the school yourself after hours to get a feel for the layout. For primary school children, try to find a recognisable spot for drop-offs and pick-ups so that they know where to wait for you if needed.
It is a good idea to have the necessities ready for when your child starts school. Be sure that they have everything they need, including uniform, stationery, lunch boxes and school bags all bought and prepared in advance. Get your child to try on their new uniform and shoes before the first day so that you can make sure they fit properly.
If your child is starting primary school, run through what they need to know when they have to get changed for P.E, such as buttons, fastenings and earring removal. Choose a school bag which is comfortable and well-sized for them as you don’t want them carrying around a bag which is too big or heavy when filled with what they need.
Managing Feelings About Starting School
Starting school is a big change for your child, and it is likely that they are feeling anxious as well as excited. It is important to let your child know that you are there for them and encourage them that they are going to do well at school. If you can, try to organise playdates with other children before starting, as this can help with their nerves so that they aren’t walking into a room of children they don’t know.
You must also think about how you are going to manage your feelings on the first day too. Even if you are feeling worried or sad, it is important that you try and disguise these as best you can. If they see you crying during their first drop-off, then they will also feel sad, whereas if you give them a happy and confident goodbye, they are likely to go in with that mindset.
The Early Weeks Of School
During the first few weeks of your child starting school, you may well notice that they are more tired, irritable or hungry than they were during the holidays. This is a big adjustment for your child to make and is bound to impact on the way they are feeling. If they get home and are grouchy, this is likely because they are tired, so try to be a bit understanding, even if they do resemble a completely different child to the one you dropped off!
Try to settle them into a routine, such as a playtime, tea, bath and bed, when they get in to help them sleep better. You could even arrange some nice treats for the weekends during the first month or so, as this will give them something to look forward to if they are struggling to adapt. Treat them to a girls boutique clothing shopping trip, a visit to the zoo or go out for their favourite tea one night – anything where you can spend time together and forget about school for a bit!