Although it’s only been two years, it feels like a lifetime ago that Joshua started big school. There were the common concerns for him – whether he’d make friends, whether he’d settle in, whether he’d be happy. Then there were the concerns for myself – mainly, how would I deal with him not being around all day?!
Regular readers will know I’m pretty OCD about being organised and the transition to school didn’t escape my wrath. I found that creating little processes and routines not only reduced stress levels but helped make Joshua feel more grounded and secure. Children love structure, after all. I’ve put together this little cheat sheet to help you and your little one deal with the new challenges ahead and make the adjustment as seamless as possible.
Tell them what to expect
Even if your child is used to nursery or playgroup, the jump to big school can feel like a challenge. The good news is that most children actually find it fun and once their initial concerns are put to bed, they’ll (mostly) look forward to going. Have a chat with them and ask how they’re feeling about starting school. If they have any worries, talk them through and inform their new teacher when they start if they’re particularly anxious. Most schools incorporate taster sessions before the summer holidays too, giving kids a chance to meet their new classmates and familiarise themselves with the classroom ahead of term.
Kids love it when they feel grown up. By involving them in pulling together their school uniform, they’re sure to start feeling excited about their new venture. We managed to pick up most of our basic uniform pieces from Tu at Sainsbury’s school shop which offers hard-wearing garments at a great price, from polo shirts to school shoes. Don’t forget to label every piece of uniform you’d like to see again though, because you can rest assured that they will lose their school jumper before the end of the first term!
Get ready the night before
The key to a smooth morning is preparation, as running around looking for lost items 15 minutes before you need to leave will add unnecessary stress to your day. Get everything ready the night before, laying out their uniform so they can either get dressed themselves or, when it comes to helping them, you have everything to hand. If your child is particularity messy at breakfast and is liable to smear chocolate spread over their crisp white school shirt when your back’s turned, get them dressed afterwards.
Give it a home
The amount of paper that’ll come home in that inconspicuous book bag is untrue. Letters about school trips, discos, sickness, parents evenings, non-school uniform days – parents can very quickly lose track of what is happening each week. As well as marking important dates on the family calendar, it can be helpful to put up a small pin board where you keep all school related paperwork to avoid mysterious disappearances and reduce that stress.
Encourage a little independence
All children are different, with some insisting on getting themselves dressed from the age of two while others still require a little help at five. If your child falls into the latter bracket, try to encourage a little more independence at home – from getting dressed to picking up their things and knowing where they belong. Every bit of personal organisation they learn will help them throughout their school day and save you a fortune on replacing missing items.
Do you have any children starting school this year? How are you going to prepare?