The First Day at School is coming soon!

The first day of school is a milestone for every parent and needs a little planning ahead.

Many schools have an Open Day where children comes into the school for a half day pre summer. They get to meet their teacher and classmates and experience the new environment. Your child may have already done this and if so arrange to meet one or more parents and your child’s classmates in the Park before September. Then (with a little preplanning) your child arrives into the yard early to find familiar faces and someone to sit with. When I did this with my last child, she ran in with her friend and I was told to leave!

Managing Anxiety

Anxiety in the parent can be passed onto the child.Remember, teachers are experienced and need an opportunity to settle the child without your presence. With my first child I hung round too long, learn from my mistake and know when to leave, timing is crucial! Avoid making your child aware of your anxieties. I know now how natural it is to have a few tears and settle shortly afterwards. However, my child picked up on my feelings of anxiety; therefore the parent needs to be solid for the child to feel secure enough to leave you.

Anxiety comes from the unknown

  • Talk about what your child can expect when starting school
  • Be calm, reassuring and positive with them.
  • Do not dilute, dismiss or ignore their feelings but explore with them. If this is left to a day or two before school starts, it is too late.
  • A child’s fears will arise from not knowing, therefore chat through the new things that will happen and reassure them that everything will be all right.
  • If your child cries when you leave them, do not panic.
  • Do not disappear; always tell your child you are going and that you will be back.
  • The teacher will advise you what to do and is very experienced in this regard.  It is hard to leave but go and ask to be informed when your child has settled.  You will be surprised how quickly they recover with the distraction of other children. Usually tears last between five to ten minutes for the first day or two. Certainly within a week you should find your child has settled.
  • Be there early at pick up time as it is so stressful for a child not to see the parent immediately; and they have enough to cope with. Tell your child you are taking them for a smoothie after pick up on the first day so they have something special to look forward to and have your attention to tell you all about ‘big School’.
  • Lots of reassurance and love helps in the early days.

Is it your last child starting school?

If it is your first child starting school, you may be kept busy with smaller children, but when your last child starts school it can be very emotional for a mum.

  • Think in advance about this, are you going to increase your work hours, or indeed return to work? Perhaps, you have opted to stay at home and therefore have an opportunity to take up a hobby or interest.
  • Join a tennis club, gymnasium or a golf club, for another, it may be a class that interests them.
  • If you are working and have little time, joining a School Committee may offer you support and help in the hard task of parenting. Any of these groups can be a valuable source of information for parents throughout the school years and help deal with issues that inevitably arise.

10 Tips to deal with the Practicalities:

  • Make it easy for your child: Velcro runners, no tights, elasticised waists
  • Label everything clearly with the child’s name
  • Get your child into uniform before the big day and show Granny
  • Easy to open lunchbox and  shoulder strap schoolbag
  • Order subsidised milk through school; its healthy & no bag spills
  • Box of raisins or 10 grapes for ‘little break’
  • Small lunch for ‘big break’, with quartered sandwich
  • A drink in a plastic bag in outside pocket of schoolbag
  • Uniform laid out the night before with shoes, socks, brush
  • Get up half an hour earlier for a calm and happy home

10 Tips to deal with the Emotional side:

  • Talk to your child, do not assume child knows what to expect
  • Fears stem out of not knowing what will happen
  • Do not belittle our child’s fears
  • Your child may cry on the first day and that is okay, it is a release of emotions
  • Do not overstay on the first day; 3-5 minutes is enough
  • If you are twenty minutes in the classroom, that is too long
  • Tell your child you are going and that you will be back
  • Be early for pick up, or it is very stressful for a child
  • Get support from other parents in the early days
  • Join a School Committee, or take time for a hobby