How to prepare your child for school
There are a few simple things you can teach your child that can help make their first weeks at school a little easier.
Starting school is a big transition for your child. It’s an exciting time and, like any change, it can bring with it some challenges and uncertainties.
The more prepared your child is for school, the better they’re placed to take advantage of the learning, development and social opportunities. This, in turn, can lead to better long-term outcomes for children.
Below are five things your child needs to know before making the leap to ‘big school’.
1. The school environment
Research suggests that a familiar, supportive environment can help set kids up for a successful transition to school. That means two things: their physical environment and the people they’ll be with.
Taking your child to school orientation sessions can help them with this adjustment. Make sure they’re familiar with their teacher and know who to turn to for help. Orientation sessions also help children feel comfortable in the classroom and playground and to know where everything is. Many schools suggest bringing your child to play into school grounds during the holidays leading up to school starting to help secure this familiarisation.
2. Confidence about their new role
A touch of confidence will help set your child up for walking bravely into the classroom. Not all kids have this confidence naturally, though, and even those who are often fearless can falter when it comes to this new adventure.
The first thing you can do to help build confidence is to model it yourself. Let your child know that everything will be okay and that you’re confident about their transition.
Another way to help them feel self-assured is to read books together about starting school. This can help to spark conversation about their concerns or other feelings.
3. Friends are at school
A big focus of school is the social aspect, and your child’s friends may help them get through this transition. Particularly in those first weeks, seeing a few familiar faces will help to ease some of your child’s uncertainty and help them feel more relaxed.
You can help your child know ahead of time that they’ll have friends at school, by having existing or new friends over to play during the lead-up to school.
4. How to get ready on time
One big frustration of school life can be the early starts and level of organisation required. It can be hard to get your child ready on time, particularly after the more flexible structure in longer holidays.
Try getting the routines and rhythms started in the last week of the holidays, including a reasonable bedtime and getting ready for the whole day first thing in the morning.
You might like to try out other routines that will help mornings run smoothly, like a to-do chart for your child to follow or making lunchboxes the night before. Getting out the door stress-free can help your child adjust to school calmly and be ready for their big day.
5. Their feelings are okay
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Your child will be experiencing a range of emotions in the lead-up to starting school. They may be excited, nervous or scared – or a combination of everything all at once. This can be confusing for them, and your role will be helping them understand and manage those feelings.
Let your child know that whatever they’re feeling is okay and take the time to talk through any worries.