10 top tips for starting school

new school year starting kindergarten starting nursery starting pre-school starting school Aug 25, 2021
 

As summer draws to an end, it is also hard for children to get back into a normal routine and in my experience, it’s good to put things in place in advance of the first day. 

Children don’t think ahead in the way we do so we need to do our best to help them adjust to changes and make it as easy as possible for them.

So I’ve drawn up a handy list – in this blog I’m giving you some practical tips and next week I’ll give you tips to manage your child’s emotional reaction to starting school.  For school I also mean nursery, day care, kindergarten,  pre-school – whatever stage your child is at.

 So here are 10 things to do:

  1. Prepare a set of clothes that your child is likely to wear to school (uniform, smock, clothes that are easy to pull down for the toilet).
  2. Do some trying on sessions – it is particularly important for your child to know how to dress and undress themselves independently. Make a game of this – you could use some fun music, set a timer, keep the score.  If it’s the first time your child has had to do things like this by themselves, then take one step at a time – practice the easy things first like a top. Make sure you practice shoes as well.
  3. Get the bag ready together with the things they might need to take. It’s a really nice idea to put a family photo in their bag so get a few printed for them to choose from. You could also put in something that your child feels might connect them with you like a shell, a small stone or a piece of cloth.
  4. Do some practices for the morning routine – giving yourself plenty of extra time. I found I used to need to add an extra 20 minutes to the amount of time I thought it was going to take to allow for ‘go slow’ or those last minute things that your child will often be very adamant that they need to do. This avoids battles and that sense of being rushed that children hate.
  5. Walk or drive the route to school a few times. Taking the school bag, getting into the car seat or onto their scooter/in the buggy. You can point out landmarks which helps build familiarity.
  6. Find out what you can about your child’s teacher or key worker. Talk about them really positively and talk about the things your child might like to tell them about – what they’ve been doing this summer or what new skills they’ve acquired.
  7. Introduce the concept of making friends – some children will do this naturally and others will really struggle (depending on their temperament). Explain that to make friends it’s good to introduce yourself and share information or ask questions.  I’ve done a handy role play above to show you how to do a role play with your child.
  8. Bring bedtime forward by 10-15 minutes a day for at least a week before school starts. The earlier you can get them to bed the better.
  9. Breakfast can be a cause of stress before leaving the house. Setting the table the night before is helpful, if you can, get your child to do this with you as it helps them to mentally prepare for the morning. You can also make a menu of 2 or 3 options they can choose from – if they make the choice the night before it makes it easier for everyone.
  10. Make a calendar and mark off the days until the first day of school. You can continue this for after they've started to show them the days of the week and also who is going to be taking them and collecting them (if it’s different people).

I hope you find it helpful. If you’ve got other suggestions, email: [email protected] and let me know. I always love to hear from you.

Watch out next week’s blog for ways to help your child make the emotional adjustment to being at school.

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