Preparing small children for big school
If your little baby is about to start big school and this is causing them (and you) some anxiety then you might need some extra preparation. We’ve pulled together a few tips from around the internet to help get you and your little one ready for the big day
Drip feed the information
Start a few months ahead and find opportunities to drip feed positive associations into your conversations, “Oh, you really like that sandwich? Maybe we should have that one on your first day of school.” or “Colouring in was fun, I hear they do that at school a lot.” Its worth remembering that over egging the drip feeding can have the opposite effect so rely on quality rather than quantity here.
Get some fun new stuff
Get them involved in choosing all the fun things they’ll need. Need a new lunchbox or book bag? Let your child choose from a few suitable options but try to keep them aside for their first use on the first days of school.
Make new friends ahead of the day
Set up a meet and greet with other children starting in their class. Utilise the wonders of social media and setup a playdate at the park with other parents and children. If you only end up meeting one other person, then your child will at least know one other child in their classroom and that can be a great help.
Visit the school together beforehand
Go to school events if there are any. Your child can start to see all the children in their uniforms, enjoying themselves and this can make it less daunting.
Practise the routine
Getting ready in the morning by a certain time, bags packed, into the car, the drive/walk to school and using the right school entrance ahead of time gives you the chance to make any first day mistakes well in advance and get it right on the day. A smoother, calmer morning on their first day is win for both the child and the parent.
Practise social skills
Sharing and taking turns is a crucial skill for children at school. Particularly if you child is a younger member of the class, their reactions to sharing and taking turns might need a little practise. Another social pitfall for children can be knowing how to get involved with playground games. Some children when faced with a group can find this daunting. Finding opportunities to practise in public play areas with children your child doesn’t already know can help them to learn these skills. Its as simple as asking to join the game but might feel pretty scary for them.
Practise the things your child currently needs help with. For example, if a child needs help buttoning up their coat, dressing after sports education, using the toilet or evening opening their lunchbox, these can add extra anxiety for a child who is not used to the environment. Additionally, practise softer skills here too, like asking the teachers for help.
Mums the word
Mind your own words. Chatting to your friends about how sad you will be when your child starts school might be a great outlet for you but children are the original busy bodies and are often listening despite appearing absorbed in a game.
First day drop off is a biggie
There are photos to be taken, settling in to be done and big emotions to be dealt with followed by a day of actual school. Keep a calm household in the morning, keep the tone positive and calm and get out of the house with a minimum of fuss, hopefully you will have practised this all already. The usual settling in rules apply here, make sure your child has found their place in the classroom, said hello to their teacher and the child next to them, kiss them goodbye, wish them a good day and say goodbye. Lingering can be counterproductive. You may want to wait until your child is totally comfortable but the distraction of a busy classroom can quickly dispel their nerves as they get absorbed by their new environment.
Add your comments below to share useful tips for getting children school ready. What worked for you?