Happy new year to all my followers! I can not believe that 2016 is here and the school year is just around the corner. Soon in many households, families will be taking the first step into formal schooling, as their little one begins kindergarten.
Starting school is an exciting step and should be looked at with enthusiasm. Although it will be a great and challenging experience for the child, parents want to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible.
In this blog I share 5 tips that will help parents and children feel a little bit more at ease with the first Semester of “big school” and hopefully allow them to enjoy this step in their education journey.
Tip 1: Morning Routine
In order for children to be as calm as possible, it is critical that the morning routine is calm and not stressful. The biggest contributor to stress in the morning on school days is the lack of time the family has to get ready.
To be able to have a calm morning, it is important that everything is ready for the child the night before school. Allow your child to lay their uniform out, pack their bag with the things they need and make their lunch to put in the fridge. They feel a sense of ownership and with that will come responsibility.
I always encourage parents to have a visual routine up so the child is clear about what is expected in the morning to get ready for school. Some of the steps could include getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast and putting their lunch in their bag. Children love completing steps and are comforted by the idea that they know what is coming up.
Always give your child a “pre wake up” which is about 10 minutes before you need them to be up. After the 10 minutes, go in and tell them it is time to wake up and start the morning routine. It is expected that all children can dress themselves and do most of the grooming skills themselves.
These are a few ideas for a morning routines chart:
It is also a good idea to try the morning routine (with play clothes) over the few days leading up to the morning of school. This way, the child is familiar with the morning routine and what is expected of them.
Tip 2: The lunch box
Ensure that your child has had a lot of practice at opening and closing their own lunch box. For many children, having a lunch box is a new experience and although the teachers will help a child who is struggling, the expectation is that the children can open and close their own lunch box.
This also includes packaging that the food is placed in. Your child needs to be confident with unwrapping cling wrap, opening and closing zippers, unscrewing and screwing lids and opening and closing their drink bottle.
Make it easy for your child. Put some fruit pieces in for morning tea and a sandwich for lunch. Most children get quite upset when they can not eat the huge lunch that has been packed. Be conscious that your child wants to play.
Parents can get their child to practice eating their morning tea or lunch within 10-15 minutes at home.
Tip 3: Make up a “big school” story
Using a few folded blank pieces of paper, make up a little book that describes what they will expect to see in a normal school day. The story could be called “Child’s name goes to Big School” Each page will focus on a different aspect of the day.
Parents can read this story to their child for a few days before starting school, as well as during Term 1 to ease any anxiety your child might have about the unknown.
An example of the story could be:
Page 1 “Jessica wakes up and puts on her uniform. She is very excited to be going to school”
Page 2 “Jessica eats her breakfast to give her lots of energy. She then brushes her teeth and her mummy does her hair”
Page 3 “Jessica packs her bag with her lunch box, hat and pencils. She is ready to get driven to school”
Page 4. “Jessica sees lots of children waiting near the classrooms. She sees the teachers and they have big smiles on their faces”
Page 5 “Jessica gives a big kiss and cuddle to her mum and she tells her that she will see her in the afternoon”
Page 6 “Jessica learns about a lot of things. She counts, draws, writes and paints”
Page 7 “It is now time for morning tea and a play on the playground. Jessica has lots of new friends to play with”
Page 8 “The children go back inside the classroom and listen to a story. They do some dancing to music and have some quiet activities”
Page 9 “Jessica hears the bell and knows that it is lunch time. She eats her lunch, has a drink at the bubblers and plays with her friends again”
Page 10 “Jessica and her friends go back inside the classroom after lunch and learn about some interesting things. She packs her bag and lines up with her class.
Page 11 “Jessica sees her mum and gives her a big kiss and cuddle. She waves goodbye to her teacher and tells her she will see her tomorrow.
Page 12 “Jessica had a great day at school”
Tip 4: The Goodbye
Even though your child may be upset, it is important to make the goodbye quick and consistent. Ensure your child is safe with the teacher and tell them you will be back in the afternoon to pick them up.
Long goodbyes draw out the stress for the child and if parents do one thing one day and another the next, the child will be confused and this will add to their anxiety. Children settle down really quickly and if you are really concerned, you could ring the school office at morning tea to ensure your child has calmed down.
Many parents also try to sneak off while their child is busy. This is unfair for the child as they will feel that they can not trust you at school. Ensure you say goodbye and leave promptly.
Tip 5: Give the teacher some time
It is very tempting to talk to the teacher every morning and afternoon when your child first starts school, but teachers need time with your child before they can offer any feedback. If there are any major concerns in the first couple of weeks, teachers always will contact you. Most schools offer a time for parents in the first few weeks to have a meeting with the teacher. This is a great time to talk about any concerns that you do have about your child.
This is a different environment for your child, so they also need time to adjust to the new structure. They may be tired and grumpy from a long day of school but this is completely normal.
I wish all the families with a child starting school the best of luck. It is an exciting time and an important step as your child gets older.
Last but not least, try not to let your child see you crying (it is emotional for parents) as they will believe it is something to be scared about. If they do, tell them it is happy tears as you are so proud of what a big girl or big boy they have become.
Until next time …
Kelly PisaniClick here to email this post to yourself or a friend