Getting Your Child Excited About Starting School
You know the saying, don’t you? The days are long but the years are short. It’s a quote that will scarcely mean more than it does on the first day of school. The following article is about supporting you in getting your children excited about starting school. You will discover some simple and proven ideas that parents have used that have made a difference to their child’s first school days.
Parents ideally want their children to be excited about starting school, to be full of wonder and anticipation about the fun and learning that is to come. This is often made easier when it is one of your subsequent children because they have likely seen their older sibling pave the way. Sometimes though, without this advantage and even when there is some familiarity, children can feel a little apprehensive about starting school, leaving old places behind and moving into the new and unknown.
Getting Your Child Excited About Starting School
Familiarise your child with the school environment
Take advantage of any prep open days or orientation days and ensure your child is well rested and fed to make the most of the experience. Use this time to familiarise yourself with the teachers, classrooms and the areas your child will be occupying most often. If there are visual cues you know your child will appreciate, (such as a poster of an animal or a bug display), then make sure you draw this to their attention to help them connect their own interest with the learning environment.
Connect with friends over the holidays
If your child is attending a kindergarten or daycare, then try and connect with any other parents who are also planning to attend your child’s school. Often this is facilitated by kindergartens, but if it isn’t, then don’t be afraid to suggest this as it will help all children. If you can, meeting these families over the holidays is a good way to talk in a group situation about school in a positive and inclusive way n front of the kids.
If you are new to an area or don’t know any families, then perhaps consider heading to local groups on Facebook (just search your suburb name and then look for groups). Often there are discussions in these groups about schools and depending on the school, they might even have a school-wide parent group.
Take your child on a special trip to buy their school things
Dedicate a day that is all about the adventure of purchasing school things, like shoes, bags etc. If you have other kids and are able, see if you can make this a solo trip with your kids which will give you a chance to talk about the year ahead.
Personalise 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!!!
If your child has a common name you might be lucky enough to be able to get some labels at your local newsagency or dollar store, otherwise there are plenty of custom label websites such as Blue Hippo and Stuck on You, just to mention a couple. Letting them choose the font and style of their labels can go a long way in fostering a sense of ownership and excitement.
Get their uniforms early but not too early
The fitting of school uniforms is often an emotional day for all.
- Don’t buy uniforms too early as kids can grow a lot (so don’t buy before the school holidays! As tempting as it is)
- Find out the fitting times and put them into your calendar. Many uniform shops are volunteer-run and times can be limited
- See if you can locate any second-hand uniform Facebook pages or local buy and sell pages for gently worn uniforms
- Buy velcro shoes if you have a choice. Teach them to tie shoes with outside school shoes. It will make it easier for you and your child’s teacher if having to tie your child’s laces aren’t a constant source of interruption. (Also young boys tend to hit and miss when they go to the toilet and wet laces are never fun for the teacher retying the shoelace)
- Don’t get too emotional if your child is already annoyed by the fuss. Keep the crying for the car on the first day.
If despite all your best efforts, your child is still anxious and worried then consider creating some visual comfort tools to support them in their early days. We have an entire resource dedicated to creating comfort tools for separation anxiety. These are things you can begin to put in place now so you are ready to go on the first day.
One thing you will likely be told by your teachers is that once you settle them in for the morning, there will be a point where you will need to leave (I know!!! how dare they hahaha). When the time comes to say goodbye and leave, don’t look back, don’t make a fuss, don’t hang around and definitely don’t ask them if they are ok! If you are anxious about their anxiety then make sure you flag this with the teachers beforehand so they can support your exit with minimum stress for everyone.
The days are long but the years are short
If you are calm, informed and prepared yourself then you will project this on to your child. Try and relax and enjoy the day. It may feel like a lot of lead up, anticipation and waiting for that first day to arrive but, 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.