You’ve done the hard bit, found the right school, and the ball is rolling. Now the reality is dawning on you, your little baby is growing up and off school in September. Before the summer holidays hits, there are a few things to get in place, not just so your child is ready for school in a practical sense, but so they are ready in a social and emotional sense. And you need to make sure that you are ready too! How can we prepare our children (and ourselves) for this all-important first day that’s just around the corner?
Make Sure Your Child Knows About The School Before They Go
You don’t want it to be a shock to the system before they go. Naturally, at this point, you’ll likely be liaising with the school to get everything in place. But the most important aspect of this is that your child is ready for it. This means, if possible, take them to a couple of introductory lessons if the school hasn’t provided this already. You need to set up a meeting with your child’s teacher, and get your child into the mindset of going. It’s important that they are ready, emotionally. If you are taking them to school, and they haven’t been to nursery or daycare before, this could be a major shock to them.
School is an environment that they are going to be in every day, Monday to Friday. They need to feel comfortable with it before they go in. It’s not beneficial to just drop them into it because this could cause more problems. A lot of schools provide moral support in this respect, but it’s worth making it easier on your child by seeing if there are any friends that they can make before school starts so they don’t feel on their own. If we, as adults feel stressed about going into a new situation, imagine how scary it is for your 3 or 4-year-old.
Putting The Practicalities In Place
While the school will tell you about the uniform they need, and the cost of lunches and so forth, you need to think about the additional practicalities. To begin with, your child may only go to school for a few hours, as such, you may find yourself on a very tight timeframe, especially if you need to go to work. It’s definitely worth booking some holiday for the first couple of days, so you are on hand if there are any issues, but you also need to think about the little things that could potentially be a big problem later on. School lunches are a very good example, because if you have a fussy eater, does this mean that they will go without food? If your child is going straight into full-time school, if they don’t have lunch in the middle of the day because they don’t like it, think of a backup plan just in case.
Sometimes it will be easier to get them to eat things when in a group of their friends, but if they have been fussy eaters for so long, naturally there’s concern if they will eat anything at all. It might be worth having a packed lunch box ready on the off-chance, but you’ve got to give it a go. It’s all about perseverance and trying to make sure that they’ve tried everything on the menu at least once. If your child skips a meal, they won’t become malnourished! In addition to this, think about the common issues that can happen on that stressful first day of school. It’s worth sending them in with spare clothing than and making sure these items don’t get lost, which you can do by very easily purchasing clothing labels to put on your child’s PE kits, coat etc. Your child may have so much fun that they end up forgetting a lot of their items or leave them lying around. This is why labels are invaluable. After all, you spend so much money on these uniforms so you don’t want to have to fork out for another after a few days!
Helping Them Thrive Before They Start
As easy as it is to say to yourself that school will provide a lot of the education, if you think that your child could do with a head start, it’s worth getting ready for this. Some children are ready to start school, but others aren’t. It’s not just about making sure that they are able to count to 10 before walking through the gates, but are sociable enough to forge these important relationships. After all, the friends we make in school can, potentially, stay with us for life. It’s about deciding what your child could benefit from before they start. Some children are fantastic and socialise easily, but others could benefit from going to a playgroup just to get used to the idea of socialising, but also sharing, and compromising.
Also, if your child has specific behavioural issues, perhaps they don’t listen to you when you’ve attempted to discipline them for the umpteenth time, it’s important to start putting a structure in place so that it doesn’t become so much of a culture shock when they start. This could be a steep learning curve for them and us, so we could make it easier by getting them into the mindset of sharing, socialising, and understanding boundaries. Yes, the school will instil a lot of these values in them, but it’s not for us to rely on the school to provide all of this. If we feel that our child needs a little nudge in a certain direction, we can start now just to help them along.
Preparing For The First Few Days
The weeks before is a very anxious time for you. If you haven’t got your child into a routine by this point, it’s important to start getting your child into one that matches the school’s. For example, if school is between the hours of 9 am and 12 pm, and your child isn’t normally ready by 9 am when at home, you will have a battle on your hands before school has even begun. This doesn’t just mean that you could end up running late for the first day, but rushing to get them ready on time could stress them out, and make them even more anxious. It’s important to put the things in place so that it becomes an easier transition. Get an idea of how long it takes to get your child fed and dressed, ready for school in time for you to set off. This hypothetical start time means that you will get into a better routine as well.
And there’s a lot of change afoot, not just for your child, but for you too. You will probably feel very emotional that your child is going to school; they aren’t your baby anymore. So if you can get into the routine of preparing for school before they actually start this won’t be as much of a shock to the system for you. Your children will learn so much when they get to school, and they are going to be overloaded with information, which will make them tired at the end of every day. This is why it is important for you to enjoy the time you have with them. Focus on being there for them, rather than worrying about what they’re going to get up to in school. And we have to remember that it’s our perspective of school that causes us to worry. For example, if we were bullied at school, naturally, we will be petrified that our children end up going through the same thing. But if we provide our children with the important social skills it won’t be as difficult for them or us.
Your Baby Is Growing Up…
It’s these big moments in life that we hang onto. We know our children grow up, but this is the first time that we’ve seen them start on a journey to being their own person. Naturally, it results in mixed emotions. It can be upsetting to see your child not as your baby anymore. But it’s one of those things in life that we all have to go through. It’s not about putting on a brave face, and no doubt, after you give them a kiss goodbye and they go through the school gates, you may be very upset, but this is a part of life that will make them into so much more! You think you’re proud of them now? Just you wait!
Are you preparing your child for their first day In school in September?