Starting school is an exciting time for children and families. There is a lot to get used to and some children will adapt more easily than others. There are things you can do to prepare your child for school and to support them in their first few weeks. First of all, it is important for you as parents to model a sense of confidence and calm to your child. Children are very perceptive and will sense how you feel.
Children will generally be less fearful when they know what to expect. In the week leading up to starting, casually talk to your child about;
• what he/she will be doing during his/her time in the Early Years Center
• his/her uniform, drink bottle and school bag.
• When it comes to dropping your child off at the Early Years Center;
• Take advantage of the opportunity to go into the classroom to settle your child to an activity.
• When it is time to go, do not tell your child that you are leaving and then hang around as this has the potential to prolong the period of anxiety for your child.
• Resist the urge to sneak away without saying goodbye.
• Say goodbye and tell your child when you will be back to pick him/her up
• If your child is upset, leave them with a teacher who is trained in a myriad of techniques for supporting them through their anxiety once you are gone.
Children need to attend regularly to have the opportunity to form the relationships necessary to help them overcome their separation anxiety. While it might seem easier to keep them home on occasion, this may also extend the amount of time a child takes to settle into the new environment.
If your child is worried about starting school, ask him/her what would help, e.g. who should take him/her to school, where he/she wants to say goodbye, what he/she wants to do after school. Having some control over what happens, helps with fears. You might tell your child what you will be doing while he/she is at school.
Some children, when they first start school, find it stressful and may notwant to go. They may get tummy aches or be very tearful in the mornings. If this happens to your child listen to his/her fears. Try not to let them see that you are worried. Let them know that you believe that they can manage to go to school and you will help your child. Ask them what they think would help, eg sometimes going with another parent instead of you is a help. For another child having something small of yours to mind while he/she is at school will help. If the worries don’t get better soon, talk to the teacher or Principal about the best way to help your child.
• Starting school is a big step for children and it takes time to get used to.
• Children do best at school when their parents and teachers work together to support them.
• Let the teacher know if anything is happening in your family that might continue to upset your child at school.
• Tell the teacher when you are pleased with what is happening at school and when you are concerned.