Ways to Help Prepare and Excite Your Child For Starting School

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This article was sponsored by Hippo Blue

You know the saying, don’t you?  The days are long but the years are short.   It’s one I love to quote, mostly because it seems the older both I, and my children, get the more this rings so very, very true.  And never more so it would seem than right now, as I sit here going through the process of preparing my second daughter for her first year of school next year.  That’s right.  The same little girl whose small hand I can still remember clasped tightly in mine as she accompanied me on the first of many school drop offs for her older sister’s prep class just a couple of years ago.  Who, as time passed and small confidences increased, gradually released her hold and instead chose to skip alongside or around me in a flurry of Elsa-inspired glittering shades of blue.  And the same little girl it would seem, who now moves quickly ahead of me, almost running with eagerness to greet her sister and show her the special picture/flower/rock she had brought for her that day as she leaves me trailing far behind, pushing her little brother in his pram and calling out to her.  Come back!

Right now she is still so full of wonder and creativity she is almost bursting with an energy to learn and soak up all that the world has to offer.  And I want to harness it.  I want to make sure she heads into the start of school with as much anticipation and readiness as possible.  For I know that no matter how confident and excited she may seem now or how often my fashion-loving child tells me she is ready to jump into those new, much bigger school shoes, that as the big day slowly approaches there will be many different emotions, including anxiety, for all the changes that are about to happen.  It’s natural.  And for some kids I know that the anxiety can be almost overwhelming.

If, like me, you are preparing to wave your little one off to school for the first time next year, below are a few tips that I found can help to get them familiar with and excited about starting school.

Familiarise them with the school environment

Taking your child along to one – or even two – of the school’s open days is a great way to get them feeling comfortable with their new environment.  Most schools offer more than one prep open or orientation day and these are invaluable as they will allow them to meet and familiarise themselves with teachers, toilets, play areas and classrooms early.  No doubt they will also play alongside other children starting at the same school the next year and, even if it is only brief, that familiar face amongst a sea of new ones in the early days will be soothing.

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Find out which friends may be going to their school too

Finding out which children in your child’s Kindy or neighbourhood are going to the same school is a good way to help them feel more settled.  Many schools ask parents in their interviews if their child already knows of one or two friends that are going there and if possible will try to get them in the same class.  If you know them well, even meeting there on the first morning may help to settle the nerves.

Take them on a special trip to buy their school things

With my eldest daughter, my husband and I dedicated a day that we spent just with her before she started prep.  My younger children were cared for by grandparents and we were able to focus solely on her as we went shopping for her school supplies together and then followed this with a special restaurant lunch with her.  This time alone allowed us to talk to her about the year ahead and how she felt and by doing this while shopping for new things helped to build the excitement.  For my second child, I feel this will be even more important as she has her own time in that spotlight.

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Have fun with personalised labels, bags and lunch boxes

You would be hard pressed to find a child that does not delight in getting new things – and it is a whole different level of excitement when those new things have their own name all over them.  Primary schools always ask you to have labels for everything (books, bags, drink bottles, clothes, shoes etc) and believe me you will want this too.  If it leaves the house on their person – label it!!!

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This year I had the chance to try the Australian brand Hippo Blue for labelling and I was impressed by both the quality of their items and the level of personalisation available.  Taking personalisation to the next level, their latest range was designed by beloved illustrators, authors and designers and allows children to choose a ‘world’ and whimsical character that resonates most with them.  With a focus on fostering their imagination while young, their range is huge and your child can personalise not just backpacks and lunchboxes but also activity books and storybooks, name labels, card games and puzzles as well.  Their new collections, titled Jungle Adventure, Busy City, Heroes Save The Day, Royal Play Time and Magic Garden are beautifully finished and the quality of their product is amazing.

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In particular, my daughter loves the ABC Jungle storybook which features her as the main character and five of her friends also in the storyline.  The activity book is brilliant too in that it continues on with activities relating to the storybook and once again features her name like in the sections teaching her how to write etc.   My eldest daughter loves them all as well and, as the products are perfect for most young primary aged children, I wish she had had them too when she first started.  Even so, the excitement on my little girl’s face when the pack arrived and the pride in which she stores these items in a special place in her room, not to mention the daily checks they get, all help add to the anticipation of starting school and finally using them all – and we haven’t even got to using any of the stickers or labels yet!!!

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Get their uniforms early – but not TOO early

This is indeed a big, big day for both parent and child.  The fitting of school uniforms.  It’s hard not to get emotional when you see their little bodies swamped in practical, slightly-too-large uniforms – even while they cover little chests that are swollen with pride.  Make sure you find out when the fittings are available as most schools have special prep uniform shop fitting times.  Whilst it’s good to be prepared, maybe don’t do it too early as you will be surprised how quickly they can grow – even over just the school holiday break!  Also, shoes with Velcro as opposed to laces will be a blessing in their first year and will make it easy for them to get themselves ready for school each day as their independence increases.

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The days are long but the years are short

Most important though is to try to relax and enjoy the process.  If you are calm, informed and prepared yourself then you will project this on to your child.  Talk with them and get them thinking about the many positives the new experience will bring (new friends, learning to read etc).

But most of all cherish this time.  It may feel like a lot of lead up, anticipation and waiting for that first day to arrive but, believe me, before you know it they will be going to their last day of high school and you will be wishing you were back where you are now.  You are about to embark on a new adventure with them and build a lifetime of memories along the way.  Trust me.  Whilst those days in between seem long – the years will fly!

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