Thank you to Denyse Whelan from Denyse Whelan Blogs to Connect, for sharing this post with The Organised HOusewife community. She finds that connecting with families is an important way for her to help them in the years of schooling and preparing for school. Whilst Denyse has retired from her formal roles, she enjoys blogging and has been an active member of the Australian blogging scene for over 5 years. Denyse continues to follow education topics and is someone who remains interested in ensuring a smooth transition from home to school.
The First Day
I wonder who will be awake first! I have heard of children being dressed and ready before it’s light.
- You will already have the instructions from your child’s school about the first day. Do try, as best as you can, not to make too much ‘fuss’ of the occasion in front of your child. Of course it is a special day but try to imagine a team of enthusiastic supporters sending you off to the first day in a new job! It’s not helpful for the emotions!
- One photo at home and one or two at the school is truly enough. If you can limit “the accompanying party”to just the parents (and any younger siblings of course) then that is ideal. It IS a big day but no-one needs to place the added pressure on the school starting child with lots of people around and too much fuss. Be aware of privacy laws and do not take any photographs of children other than your own.
- Just let that first day happen. It may surprise you and go very well when it’s time for your child to be left in the classroom or wherever the school has asked you to meet. It also may be that your mostly confident child has a turn around and is clingy. The school’s staff has seen many different effects on the children at school starting time so be very confident that all will be well.
- It’s helpful for you not to let your child know how much you will miss them. I have known of children worried about being ‘missed’ and feeling like they have let their parents down.
- It will have an emotional tinge to the day. It is natural. Some schools host ‘tea and tissues’ at the same time the children start. Whatever happens, it will be fine. It may take some time for it to sink in, but it’s a BIG day and you are to be congratulated on this major life transition for you and your child.
The First 2 Weeks
- So, the first day is over. You have waited outside the classroom and had that wonderful greeting to you (or just a quick hug) at the end of the day. Your child will look hot (summer and playground play!) and can be overtired. Remember what it’s like at the end of your first day at work.
- Best idea over these next two weeks or so is to have consistency of school drop-off and pick up. If both parents work, do try to take leave (or organize a shorter work day) so that one of you is there before and after school. At school pick up, ensure you have a cool drink or even something to eat in the car (depending on your journey home) as your child will need this! Iceblocks on a very hot afternoon truly help!
- These are precious times. In a family where the first child has just started school there can be quite a change to the routines. Notes from the school, checking the school’s app to see what’s on, looking in the school bag, sorting out belongings (remember the 2nd hat idea?), unpacking the lunch box and drink bottle and getting ready to do it all over again the next day.
- If you can, I always suggest that there are no planned after school activities for at least this time or at best Term One. The children who start school and have to answer to different adults and learn to get along with so many new people are exhausted by the newness. Some will revert to needing comforters for a while. Others may need a quiet bath and bedtime earlier than you can imagine.
- Oh, and then there is this. Sometimes it can come as quite a surprise to some new starters of school to find out it is EVERY day of the week other than Saturday and Sunday. I have heard some children who think that’s not right! Oh yes, it is, and usually for another 13 years!
The settling in period – Term One
- Many schools have a ‘meet the teacher’ evening or afternoon time within the first 3-5 weeks of school. Do attend these. It is also worthwhile showing your support for your child’s school by being interested in the parent groups and possibly putting your hand up to be a school helper for reading and so on. This is best left, however, until the second term when programs become more fully ready for parent participation.
- If you are concerned about any aspect of your child’s settling in or other matters relating to school you will need to make an appointment to see the class teacher. All schools have systems for this. It is unlike early childhood settings where you can check in and chat most days when you want.
- The teacher/student ratio is higher in schools and in the first weeks your teacher will give you a call or see you if there is anything really standing out as needing input from you. More likely however, your child’s teacher will be able to give you a quick ‘he/she is going well’ as you collect your child after school.
- By the end of Term One you will be surprised by your child’s development. Where did that pre-schooler go?
I wish everyone well and hope that it is a smooth and wonderful transition to the world outside home where more learning to complement that from birth onwards comes to life in so many and varied forms!
Congratulations, your child has started school!
What a landmark event in your lives.
About Denyse Whelan B.Ed. M.Ed.
K-6 Principal (retired). Former K-6 Education Consultant to Pre-Schools. Retired University Tutor – Masters of Education Pre-Service Teachers.
She has been married to a fellow retired teacher for almost 45 years, is the mother of two grown children, both of whom are in professional careers and who are raising their own families, Denyse’s 8 grandchildren, aged from 18 to 7 months!
In the latter part of Denyse’s career, after her retirement as principal, Denyse became carer over 2-3 days a week to three of the grandchildren from when they were around 6 months until pre-school and school starting times. She enjoyed this part of her involvement with her family very much.