How to prepare your child for starting school
Most parents in Britain now know which primary schools their children will be attending and, for many of us, this has thrown into stark focus the reality of sending our babies off into the big bad world. It can feel daunting enough for us adults; just imagine how it must feel when you’re four years old?
Many children will have the experience of pre-school and there are lots who will take it in their stride. It is quite common, however, for even the most confident of youngsters to start to wobble as the big day gets closer.
The good news is, there are things you can do to make the transition easier and to remove some of the fear for your little ones. In turn, you should feel calmer knowing that your child is as prepared as they can possibly be. So, where do you start? Cue some all-round parenting advice.
Visit your child’s new school
Some children are lucky and already have plenty of experience of visiting their new school. Many will have even spent time in their classroom as a result of older siblings who have gone before. There are others, however, who will have no idea of what to expect, making attending open days or planning visits extremely important.
Children who know what to expect won’t feel so anxious when their first day rolls around, especially if time has also been spent explaining exactly what will happen when they get to school and during their first few days.
Consider the practicalities
Children who have the practical skills to cope at school will find the transition so much easier than children who still have to rely on adults to fasten their shoes or zip up their coats.
Don’t worry if there are things your children cannot do when their first day arrives – your anxiety can make your child feel worse – but it is worth spending time between then and now doing as much pressure-free preparation as you can.
Try to work on practical tasks such as toilet training, dressing and undressing, and also on skills such as listening, waiting and taking turns. Hopefully, your child’s pre-school will be focusing on this as well.
Talk and read
Reading books about starting ‘big school’ can really help in the preparation process, as can talking through any concerns or worries and focusing on all of the exciting things that will happen when they start.
Don’t transfer your own anxiety
It can be an extremely emotional time for parents but it’s important to hide anxiety from your children as much as possible. We all know that youngsters can pick up on our emotions and so this can be really difficult to achieve. Really working hard at not letting them think you’re worried or concerned, however, can really pay dividends in the end.
On day one, try to hold it together until your child is well out of sight. It will be much easier for them to say goodbye to a happy, smiling grown-up than a crying heap who makes them wonder what terrible things you expect to happen to them during the day.