For many children starting school is an exciting time that they take to quite easily. Many children will already be familiar with the school they are going to attend perhaps through a sibling or friend who already goes to the school. For others it can be more daunting. Although it is likely that your child will have attended a nursery school in one form or another, the step up to infant school can be a challenge.
There are a number of actions you can take that will help your child to settle more easily when starting school. These actions can start a number of years before the "big first day".
Planning ahead includes working out which school or schools your child is most likely to attend. For the majority of children this is likely to be your local infant school. When looking for a nursery school for your child, try to find one where many of the children attending will move on to the same infant school as your own child will. There is nothing like having friends and some well known faces around to make it easier to settle into a school.
Get to Know the School
After you have been allocated a place at a school you should find the school offers a number of ways in which to help your child get to know the school and the teachers well before their first day. This is likely to include visits to the school, getting to know their classroom and also meeting their teacher. It is very important that you find the time to go along with your child on these occasions. This helps you to get to know the school yourself and to also start to build your own rapport with members of staff.
Discuss Worries Early
If you have any particular worries or concerns of your own make sure you discuss them with the school as early as possible. This is likely to help to put your own mind at rest. If you are happy and comfortable about the school your child is going to attend then you are likely to pass these feelings on to your child and this will help them settle in quickly.
Find About the School Routine
It can also be a big help if you know a little of the routine your children will encounter. You are then able to discuss what a day at school will be like and run through the activities your child will be doing. The more familiar your child feels with school routine the easier they will find starting school.
Being Able to Take Care of Things Helps
The more independent your child can be the more confident they will feel in their early school days. For example being able to go to the toilet by themselves and dressing themselves after PE lessons will help their self esteem. This will help them to feel at home in the school environment.
Buy all the uniform and equipment they need in advance. If you leave it until the last minute you may not be able to buy what they need. Turning up for school in different clothes to other children or without a piece of key equipment can increase self doubt in a child.
Getting to School on Time
Likewise it is very important to get your child to school on time. A child can find it distressing walking into a classroom late and seeing all their colleagues already settled in for the day. Also make sure you arrive on time to pick your child up at the end of the school day. Any waiting around after all their classmates have gone home can cause a great deal of worry and anxiety. If disaster strikes and you are going to be late then phone the school so that a message can be given to your child so that they do not start to worry about you.
Making Early Mornings Easier
Early nights and plenty of sleep for both you and your child will help to make it that much easier in the mornings. So if you have let bedtimes slip over a holiday period it is a good idea to wind bedtimes back a week or two before school starts.
Check the Journey to School
Shortly before the school term starts do a dry run of your journey to school. Not only will this help familiarise you with the route it will also reacquaint your child with the school as they will probably not have visited the school for a while owing to the school holidays. If you are driving add extra time to your journey to account for extra traffic caused by the school run.
Settling in Tips
In summary the more you can do to make your child familiar with the school surroundings the easier they are likely to find starting school. Visit the school as much as possible with your child before they are due to start. This will help them settle in. Talk to your child about how they are likely to find school life before they start. The more comfortable they feel about the changes they are about to face the easier it will be for them.
A couple of books that may help your child when starting school are: