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January comes and the conversation around the water cooler moves to school starting. Once the horror at the expense has been agreed by all, the chat moves to who is looking forward to going to school and who is anxious about it. These feelings seem to go as much for the parent as for the child, in particular when the child is first starting school.
How to make your child’s first day at school successful
Every parent wants to make sure that their child is prepared and equipped for one of the first independent steps in their lives, and one that we all have to make the best of… every weekday…for years!
There are so many aspects to prepare for, … new environment … other children… following rules… social etiquette… finding your way around… and the list goes on.
Being prepared will build confidence
Being prepared and providing your child with information and problem-solving skills will support them in becoming more independent when the big day arrives. Simple things like knowing to raise your hand to ask a question, looking at and listening to the teacher so that they can better follow instructions are key to building confidence and avoiding those situations where we feel awkward and undermined our confidence.
Preparation can start early and cover the whole school day. Getting into a routine of preparing books, lunches and sports uniform for the day or the week. How they are getting to school, where to wait after school, and importantly, what to do if something different happens… if, for example, you are late for pick up!
Boost problem-solving skills
Being armed with tips and understanding how they have successfully navigated a similar situation before, can help in building confidence and avoiding those awkward situations. Refer to Tippy’s activity ‘Bumps in the Road’ to work through what has worked I the past.
Identifying friendly behaviour
Meeting new people, in particular, requires courage and can be especially worrying for some, so don’t miss Tippy’s activity ‘Identifying Friendly Behaviour’, in the ‘Starting School Adventure’ story.
Your child may also want to encourage your child to try some of the friendly behaviours, particularly if they tend to be shy with new people.
Acknowledging and understanding your child emotional response
Whether your child is excited or anxious, acknowledging and showing an understanding of their emotional response will help them feel understood. Refer to our Starting School expert tips for some practical examples of how you can do this.
While preparation will help make your child’s start to school more successful, I can’t promise that it will make you less emotional on the day.