Many children and parents are anxious about starting school for the first time. That is natural. It is a significant milestone in a child’s life and presents a range of emotions. Sending a confident, independent and happy child to school is the most important aim for parents.
Here are our top tips to help you prepare your child for Kindergarten.
- Borrow Starting School books from the library and read them daily over the summer break. Pick out fun activities and use them as starting points for conversations. If your child seems worried about starting school, use books to draw out these fears and reassure them.
- Take a special trip to the College together to buy uniforms and essential items for starting school. Make it into an adventure and do it one-on-one with your child.
- Discuss your own happy memories of school. Perhaps mention games you played or how much you liked your first teacher.
- Be careful not to introduce worries they haven’t considered and try not to pass on your own anxieties.
- Remind them of the activities they enjoyed during orientation sessions. Take care not to exaggerate - creating a utopian vision of endless fun and instant friendships might set children up for disappointment.
- Relieve your child’s anxieties by mentioning how the basics work – food, toilet, where you’ll meet them at home time.
- If you know of prospective classmates, meet up over the summer - familiar faces on day one will help.
- Label every item – from underwear and socks to hats.
- Write their name inside their shoes with permanent pen. Choose an image such as a smiley face, butterfly or football and draw half on the left shoe’s sole and half on the right, so they match like a puzzle – a simple way to help children put their shoes on.
- Ensure you know details for the first day and don’t be late. Spending 10 minutes getting flustered about where to park or go will not create a relaxing mood for your child. Do a practice run beforehand.
- Get them into a routine the week before that’s compatible with school hours, such as an earlier bedtime.
- Have your child wear their new school shoes around the house to wear them in.
- Teach them to recognise their own name. Ask them to find their name amongst other words, making it fun and playful.
- Explain the importance of proper hand washing – using soap, washing both sides of their hands and in between their fingers before drying – to lessen the transfer of bugs due to poor hygiene.
- Encourage them to talk to other children by looking them in the eyes and smiling, asking what their names are and introducing themselves. Children worry they won’t have friends in the first week so we must equip them with the skills to get to know each other.
- Encourage them to take any concerns to a teacher and not be worried to speak up. Children get upset about a lost hat, a missing drawing, a child who knocked them over accidentally – teachers will resolve these problems for them.
On the day
- Try not to cry in front of your child as this will upset and confuse them – especially as you’ve been telling them how great school is.
- Greet other parents and arrange a meet up as soon as possible. It’s just as important to build solid relationships with other parents as it is for students to become friends, as you will probably be together for many years.
- Avoid saying you’ll miss your child – it puts ideas in their heads that they’ll miss you too.
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