Starting school is a milestone event in your child’s life. This marks his entry into the formal education system, one which he will be part of for many years to come. So, it is a new adventure for both you and your child. Thus you may just as nervous about it, as you are excited about this phase.
While some children can’t wait to go to school, others are worried about this transition. Whether your child falls into the first category or the second, here are some helpful tips on how you can ease your child into his brand-new school experience.
Tell him what he can expect
Long before your child has to start school, prepare him for the experience by talking about it often. Focus on the positives and make him look forward to going to by making it sound like fun. Pick up story books on starting school and read it together. Your child will most likely have doubts, concerns and fears. Clear his doubts and answer his questions, so he has a good idea of what he can expect.
Take him on a school tour
Most schools welcome children into the campus before their first official day as a student. Schools usually host an orientation day when parents and new students visit the school and familiarize themselves with the system. Make use of this opportunity to tour the school with your child. This will help him understand how his class will be and where the canteen and washrooms are. Introduce him to his class teacher if possible. Make the experience enjoyable and your child will look forward to going there again.
Try to find other children who will be starting school with your child. Introduce them to each other and create an opportunity for them to meet and play together before school starts. This way, your child will have a friend on his first day. It will be reassuring for him to know that there will be at least one familiar face for him in the new environment. If possible, arrange to have him come into school on the first day of term with a friend or sibling he knows. This will make it less daunting.
Take him shopping
Shopping for school supplies is an exciting experience for young children. Take your child on such a trip and help him pick out all the new things he needs for school. Make this trip exclusively to pick up his stuff, so he can be involved in the experience. Also have him try on his school uniform and ask him to join in when you label all his stuff.
Make a few visits to school and show him the way there
Familiarize your child with the route to school before he starts there. If he has to walk to school everyday, these visits will help him get used to the way and the terrain. It will also give you a general idea of how long each trip will take. If he will be traveling by a vehicle, you can do a dry run to show him the route. Try to make few trips in the morning, at the time he will have to go to school to help him get an idea of how it works.
Practice a bedtime routine and set up an early morning routine in advance
Prepare him for his first day at school by getting into a routine in the days leading up to start of term. Make sure he goes to bed early, so he is well-rested when he wakes up. Also establish a morning routine so he understands the sequence of activities on school mornings. Practice this for few weeks and he will get into the habit instead of having to adjust to a sudden change after school begins.
Your child will have to do a lot of things by himself when he is in school. So, stop waiting on him and let him address his needs himself. Teach him to dress and undress himself. Encourage him to eat on his own and show him how to wash his hands and dry them. Let him pack his bag, put away his things and learn to organize his room. Teach him the importance of staying safe and discuss what he has to do if he finds himself in an unsafe situation at anytime.
Address his worries and reassure him
It is natural for your young child child to have certain fears or worries about starting school. Since it is a new environment, he may be worried about using the washroom, eating his food and finding his way. Never dismiss any of his worries. Instead reassure him by telling him that he will be taken care of. Tell him that he can ask his teacher if he needs anything or has any doubts.
Don’t let your worries rub off on him
You may be anxious about your child starting school. However, don’t discuss this in front of him or let him recognize your nervousness. Children easily pick on such emotions, and this can add to their anxiety. Avoid discussing anything negative about school when he is around and keep your emotions in check. Refrain from discussing your negative school experiences or other stories you have heard when he is listening. You should also avoid over-hyping school. Your child will be disappointed if school doesn’t live up to the expectations you set. Instead focus on the actual positives and let him learn to like school for what it offers.
Despite all the measures you take to prepare your child for school, don’t be surprised if he is reluctant to adjust in the first few days. At his age, it isn’t easy to quickly settle into an environment he isn’t accustomed to. Be patient and support him. It won’t be long before he settles in and gets used to school life.