For a young child, it can be frightening to suddenly confront a complete change in routines and social groups so moving from home or preschool to “big” school can often be a little nerve wracking. These simple tips will give you some confidence when getting ready to face the first day of kindergarten together.
Before school starts:
- Attend the school’s orientation or open day with your child. You can both meet the teacher, find out the classroom size, routines and activities. Your child can also meet classmates and learn where the bubblers, toilets, playground and first aid areas are located. This familiarity will help them when they start school.
- If they will be in before and after school care this is also a great opportunity to become familiar with the facilities, routines and procedures in transferring the kids to and from school. Perhaps your little one can join their older sibling, or older day care friends and teachers as they walk to school.
- Schools will give you notice of uniform and other supplies parents are required to organise, and many will allow plenty of time for purchase and practice in dressing and routines.
- Practice the route to school in the week before starting. This allows your child to become used to the travel to and from the school and avoids any anxiety or fears about the trip.
- Practice the new school day routine before school starts. This might mean morning and bedtime routines get a run through to ensure the “plan” actually works and fits into your family lifestyle.
- Try on the full uniform, shoes, socks, hats and bags to make sure everything fits. You could make this a little less scary by leading by example and “trying on” a new work or special “first day outfit”. You could also try having your child dress themselves for school and see how it goes.
- In the week before school starts have several trials with the lunch box so that the kids can manage using it. Practice some favourite healthy lunch ideas as well so you know your child will be eating their lunch come school time.
- If your child has been in a local playgroup or preschool , try and organise with parents whose children are going to the same school to meet up so they will know someone when they arrive. This is a great buddy system and can be very useful if the kids become overwhelmed during the first few days.
- Don’t forget to give them lots of love and support allowing them to talk to you about any fears or worries they might have. Take their worries seriously, quietly comforting and explaining the routines.
Once attending school:
- Keep to a routine when taking your child to and from school. This lessens their anxiety and helps them cooperate. It may even be helpful in the mornings, especially if you have younger children starting school over the next few years.
- Find a quiet time to chat to your child before bed each evening about their day. If you feel there are any issues arising, have a quiet word to the teacher. If you need to do this try not to make it a big deal or overly noticeable as some children may be sensitive to this, or feel like a “dobber” if it’s something they feel they can manage.
- Being a student is hungry work! All the learning, growing and playing will definitely be taking its toll on your little one, so ensuring there are healthy after school snacks are great at ensuring they get all the essential vitamins and minerals they need.
- Keep their bedtime early until they settle into a routine for a few weeks. Any changes to the routine could set off a few nights of restlessness which could lead to tired, grumpy and overly sensitive behavioural outbursts.