Starting school is a big step so we’ve put together a guide to help you support your child, written by local mum Stephanie Sandeman-Allen.
Talk about school together
Talking positively to your child about their school and what they will be doing there should help to explain the changes they will encounter when they begin school. Answering their questions will help to calm any worries that they have about this. It is important to be positive and to try not to overwhelm them. Reading books together about starting school can be very reassuring.
Practice the new
To familiarise your child with their new everyday routine, practice anything that you foresee might be an issue. For example, trying out your journey to and from the school gate together can aid making the environment leading into school more recognisable.
Similarly, wearing a new school uniform ahead of the first day can help by becoming accustomed to how it feels., supporting them and working to help them develop and achieve their potential.
Find out what the rules are for the new class. For example, what day does PE kit need to be brought in, do you need to provide your own water bottle, where do the children play? You could ask the teacher for a settling in pack to look through with your child. It might explain things like who the teachers are, where the coat pegs are, or the name of a special classroom toy animal.
Understanding roughly the outline of the school day is useful so that you can talk together about what will happen at school.
Being able to do essential tasks independently such as getting dressed or using the toilet increases confidence, although these skills take time to master.
Practice by doing things such as using public toilets, explaining that there are separate toilets for boys and girls at school too. It may also be helpful for your child to practice packing and unpacking their school bag and using their lunchbox themselves.
Organising playdates with children who will be in the same class can help to build friendships as well as ease the social aspects of starting in a new class. Playing games together where people have to raise their hand to say something or wait their turn to join in can help children to understand how turn taking in a classroom works.
Building a good routine
Starting school can be exhausting for young children. To help combat the tiredness, it is important to set up routines that allow your child to go to sleep and wake up in time for school. Simple things like reading stories before bed to relax, and eating breakfast before school are important.
Combatting your concerns
If you have any specific concerns it may be worth setting up a brief meeting with the teacher. They should be happy to talk through any worries that you have, although this will likely need to happen during term time with an agreed appointment time. It is also worth getting to know the other parents from your child’s class, both for sharing useful information from the school or teacher, and for mutual parental support.
Stephanie Sandeman-Allen is a local mum of two boys, the youngest of whom will be starting school this September.