Top tips for preparing your child for their very first day of school. Starting the first year at primary school is a very exciting time for children and families alike, especially if it is the first child in your family to start school.
Lots of little people will be starting school for the very first time this month, going into the Prep year (as it’s called in here in Queensland). Some kids will be very excited and looking forward to it, other kids might be feeling a bit nervous or anxious about their first day. It simultaneously seems like a lifetime ago and just yesterday that my own kids were starting school. I remember all the excitement, nerves and preparations vividly. If it is your first/oldest child starting school for the first time that means it will be a whole new chapter in your family’s life with some big adjustments to be made. A little bit of preparation and practice before the big day will go a long way to help both you and your kiddo feel ready and confident for their very first day.
TALK WITH YOUR CHILD ABOUT STARTING SCHOOL
Have lots of conversations in the lead up to school starting, remember to always speak positively about school with your kiddo and make sure to answer any questions they might have. Things to talk about are:
- What might happen on the first day
- How to make introduce themselves to other kids
- Ideas on how to make friends
- The sorts of things they are going to learn about over the year
- Share some of your positive memories of your first year of school.
BUILD EXCITEMENT FOR THE FIRST DAY
Take your kiddo shopping to choose some special things for school like their pencil case and school bag. If you’re online shopping for these items have them look at the product images with you and pick which ones they like. Then they can watch for when the postie delivers them! Have a look at my lunchbox guide for some great lunch box, cooler bag and drink bottle options to purchase.
Other ideas to help build excitement and sense of fun:
- Role play being at school or being a teacher- they could do this with their siblings or favourite toys.
- Drive past the school when you can with your child and point it out to them enthusiastically.
- Countdown how many sleeps until the first day of school – available here.
- Get them play dress-ups a few times in their new uniforms and shoes a few times over January – this will have the added benefit of helping to break in the new shoes and the sensorial feelings of wearing a uniform (some uniforms are a little heavier and hotter than others).
- Read lots of picture books together about starting school and being at school. There are some lovely ones out there to purchase, or you could borrow some from your local library.
PREPARE THEM FOR THE PRACTICALITIES OF SCHOOL
In the prep classroom your child will need to be able to do certain things independently in the classroom where they can. Practicing these things at home before hand will certainly help their school readiness. Things to practice and make sure they are confident with:
- Can they recognise their name and their belongings? Get them look for certain features to help them remember. If they have a required school bag that will look the same as all the others, can you add a special tag to it?
- Are they confident with toileting and wiping independently?
- Can they put on and take off their socks and shoes by themselves (velcro tabs are good option for school shoes if your child can’t tie laces yet)
- Can they open and close their lunchbox and drink bottle by themselves, also any snack containers, glad wrap and other food wrappers?
- Can they put sunblock on by themselves and do they know which areas they should sunblock?
- Can they change their clothes independently and manage any zippers or buttons? It’s a good idea to pack a spare uniform and underwear in their school bag in case of accidents or getting messy during art and craft.
GET A ROUTINE ESTABLISHED BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS
The first few weeks of school are very tiring for kids adjusting to all these new demands on their mind and body. Making sure they are well rested in the weeks before school starts and that they are in a consistent routine is very helpful. A regular bedtime routine so they get enough sleep each night could include things like bath, pyjamas, brush teeth, story time then lights out. In the mornings start getting them used to getting up early enough, with time to get ready and get to school and perhaps eating breakfast a little earlier than they are previously used to.
A routine chart helps tremendously with encouraging independence and streamlining school mornings. It is also a useful tool for helping familiarise your new little student on how school mornings are going to run. There is a range of routine charts available in my online shop, including the ones you can have personalised for what suits your family best. The routine charts have images for each step which is perfect for pre-readers.
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