I remember my son’s first day of school. Our small, shy child went into class happily, played with some toys laid out on the tables and happily waved goodbye to Mum and Dad when it was time to go.
Our outgoing, full of spunk daughter started the following year and given she had spent a year at pick up and drop offs we assumed she would be fine. Her first day she clinged to my leg and cried until the teacher took her to the front of the line and into class. This went on for the first 3-weeks.
Looking back, the difference was in our preparation. We prepared well for our son as he was the first off to school. We didn’t prepare well for our daughter, assuming she would be fine just as our son was.
It’s great to start the conversation with your children in the months and weeks leading up to their first day and the most important conversation I still have with my children who are now going into Grade 5 and 4 is “you’re not expected to know everything, that’s what the teachers are there for… to help and teach you.”
Here’s some other tips to help for a smooth transition from Nick Jnr. (republished from http://www.nickjrparents.com.au/2017/01/13/starting-kindy-this-year-tips-from-parents)
1. FAMILIARITY –The new school could feel like a completely separate island from the rest of your family life, especially for the first child. I think it’s a great plan to spend a lot of time driving past school, walking around the surrounds and taking family members to have a look. Even if it’s just cruising around the area on the weekend. Kids getting familiar with not only the school, but the route to school, can ease a little of the worry.
2. ROUTINE – We all know kids love routine, so a major part of kindy worry surrounds not really knowing what will happen during the day. New teachers would have explained all of that during orientation, but all that info is hard to take in during such an exciting time. Spending time talking about what actually happens during the day can be a lot of comfort. Knowing that there is plenty of time to eat, play and go to the toilet may seem obvious to us, but could be invaluable to our kids.
3. EXPECTED KNOWLEDGE – My daughter was feeling quite worried about school and finally confessed that she didn’t know how to read or count very far. She thought that she needed to know these things to start school. It was as though we all expected this from her and she was trying to bluff her way through and couldn’t stand the pressure any more. When she discovered that no one (or not many children) would be able to read or count far, it was a great relief.
4. FOOD – Practising with a lunch box is a sensible way to get used to school routines. If kids have been at pre-school, then it’s a no brainer, but other kids will be very excited and nervous about managing their own food.Practising at home or on days out is a good way to help children manage food. Some parents said that their kids were unsure about how to make food last and what to eat at different food breaks, so having us around to suggest what should go first and when can help empower kids.
5. UNIFORM – Wearing a school uniform for the first time is very exciting, and a little daunting. Wearing it at home a lot is a good way to learn how to manage all the zips and buttons and work out how the hat strings work. Learning how to put your own uniform on can give a child a feeling of independence on their first day. Plus, figuring out how to get it on properly after going to the toilet is essential to ease first day jitters