Getting ready for the first day of school
Your child’s first day of school is a big step. However, there are plenty of practical things that you can do to prepare them for their big day.
- Tell your child what you enjoyed about your school days and talk positively about starting school.
- Involve your child in choosing things they need for school such as school bags or stationery.
- Make sure your child is familiar with the school building, for example where the office and toilets are.
- Discuss the school day routines with your child, for example what might be happening at school at different times of the day; where they will line up to wait for their teacher; where they eat their lunch; where they will be collected at the end of the day and also by whom (an older sibling, aftercare teacher or outside after-school group).
- Allow enough time in the week before school starts to label your child’s belongings clearly with their name, surname and grade or class name. Label everything, from shoes and socks to lunchboxes and individual pencils and crayons. This may be a time-consuming task. However, it will save you the expense of replacing lost items and clothing on a regular basis. Put something distinctive on your child’s school bag like a large tag, keyring or ribbon. This will help them find their bag easily.
- Be organised. Get into routine right from the start. Show your child how to be independent by getting themselves out of bed in the morning and getting ready so you can leave at a set time each day without stress or anger.
- Make sure that all items that your child needs for the day are organised the night before. Lay out your child’s school uniform, polish shoes, make lunch and have the school bag packed and ready. For the lunch box, keep the food items bite-sized and easy to handle, for example, have fruit cut up rather than giving a whole orange or apple and so on. Remember to keep the lunch interesting, but healthy.
- Avoid sugary snacks!
- Ensure that your child is well rested and goes to bed at an appropriate time the night before.
“At school” tips
- Remember, your child will look to you for comfort and support on their first day at school. If you are anxious, then they will be too. Be positive and encouraging, but be unobtrusive. Most schools will have a settling in period for Grade 1 learners and parents to help deal with the separation, so take the lead from your child’s class teacher.
- For lunch time in the lower grades, many schools set aside time in the classroom for all children to eat their lunch before going out to play. Children have the tendency to forget to eat in the excitement of the school playground. Children will naturally share their food and snacks in the classroom, so bear this in mind if your child suffers from any food or nut allergies. Train your child to know what foods they can eat, and what foods to avoid. You would have filled this information in on your school application form. However, as a double check, ensure that the teacher is fully aware of any allergies your child suffers from, or if they are currently taking or need special medicines. You can always send in “safe” birthday or celebration treats in sealed packets for the teacher to keep in the classroom to give to your child when there is a shared food activity such as class birthday parties.