The most important thing you can do is to be positive about this next step. If you have any anxieties or concerns your child will “pick up” on these so it is essential to remain positive about handing over the care of your child to others. Even if you have to fake it , be positive!
It is very important that a child’s first experience at school is a positive and happy one. You can help by leaving your child quickly and decisively and reassuring the child of your return.
Be Organised and Calm
Be organised in the mornings so you can leave the house calmly and arrive at school relaxed. Try leaving the house ten minutes early. This will really help your child feel calm.
Create a spot near the front door which can be known as the “Lift off pad”. In the evening place the school bag in this spot along with any special requirements for the next day e.g. swimming costume, hat, craft bag, library bag, sleeping bag. This avoids the mad dash about the house in the morning with everyone looking for that missing library book!
Having your child help you lay out their clothes/uniform for the next morning is also a great way to make the morning run more smoothly – no lost shoes!
Ensure your child is well rested. Early to bed!
Maintain a morning routine and stick to it! Get dressed, make bed, eat breakfast, clean teeth then play. Whatever routine works in your family is fine, the most important thing to ensure is: no playing or watching TV until the child is completely ready to walk out the door.
Avoid shouting from another room! Walk up to your child, get their attention and calmly remind them to get dressed. They will need your help and reminders in the early days.
Be Involved & Interested – not Pushy
Make it your business to network with other parents to assist your child in learning names and forming friendships.
Become involved in your child’s school if your work commitments permit.
If your child says “I don’t want to go to school today” it is a good idea to become familiar with the child’s timetable so you can say “it is craft day today” (or library or music). Help them find something to look forward to each day so they don’t want to ‘miss out.’
When the child arrives home in the afternoon avoid asking too many broad questions such as “Who did you play with?” or “What did you learn?” or “What did you do today”? Instead, ask a couple of more specific questions such as “What game did you play in music today?” or “What book did you choose at the library?” This kind of conversation shows you are informed & interested rather
than pushy and anxious. Remember you do not want to project your anxiety onto your child.
Remember your child may be tired. Especially for younger children, it takes a lot of energy to concentrate, listen to instructions, interact with other children and respond to questions. They may need some quiet time in the car or at home. Sitting and colouring together or doing a puzzle may help. For others – they may need to let off steam by kicking a ball or riding a bike.
For a pre-schooler who is having trouble separating it is important to leave quickly. Try giving your child a photo of yourself to keep in their pocket, or a piece of your costume jewellery in their pocket or a lipstick kiss on an envelope. I have had years of success with this simple strategy. It works a treat! Another tip is to have the child choose a game to play on returning home and place it beside the front door. This creates a feeling of security and acts as an “anchor” to home and family. Make sure if you use this strategy that you make time to play that game when you get home – even 5 to 10 focussed minutes will make a big difference. Try not to get caught up in ‘rushing to prepare dinner’ etc. 5 minutes of playing with your child will make the whole evening routine much more relaxed and pleasant for all.
For children who are experiencing separation difficulties after more than a few weeks there may be other issues to be addressed. Please contact Janet for further assistance.
Tips for a happy start to school!
- Be positive
- Remain Calm
- Be organised
- Early to bed
- Prepare bag and clothes in the evening
- Establish morning routine
- Leave 10 minutes early
- Avoid shouting
- Avoid too many questions at the end of the day
- Allow scheduled days off if your child is becoming tired