Starting at ‘big school’ can be very intimidating for little ones, and nerve-wracking for parents, but our essential tips will make that first day at big school a breeze for both of you!
If you can follow our eight essential tips then your little one is sure to have a great first day:
1. Give them a meal routine
Whether you already have a routine with your child, or are the sort of parent who has lunch between 12-1:30ish, it’s important to get your little one into a meal routine before their first day of school. This will teach them that there is a time and place for snacks and lunch before they go into the classroom. Most schools will have their break and lunch at the same time every day so, if you can find this out in advance, do a week or two of meals using the same schedule.
2. Practise putting on uniform
Before going to big school for the first time your child’s uniform will be very exciting to them, while they are still treating it with the same enthusiasm as a new toy, let them practise putting it on and taking it off again. Most schools will have PE lessons where your child may be required to dress themselves so the more practise they get the better. This little exercise will also help reduce your stress levels in the morning (not only on the first day, but all year round!).
3. Make sure they know practical skills
Skills such as sitting (mostly) still, waiting and listening will be very important on your child’s first day at school. Whilst all children develop at different rates, having these three skills will make it easier for your child in an environment where they will be expected to behave and follow instructions.
4. Ask what they are most looking forward to
Your child might be very nervous about their first day, especially if they are naturally quiet or shy, the best thing you can do to help them is ask what they are looking forward to. This will give them the opportunity to look past their nerves and look forward to starting their newest adventure. However, do not over-hype school – you don’t want to tell them it’s magical and amazing as they may feel let down and not want to go back!
5. Make sure they can eat their lunch
This may sound like an obvious one, but it’s important to make sure that if your child is taking in a packed lunch (in a brand new lunch box) that they can easily undo the clasp and that any food inside can be unwrapped or opened by them. If they are having a hot lunch they may be required to carry a tray and use full-sized cutlery, so make sure they get chance to use these utensils before they go to school where lunchtime staff may not notice if they are having trouble.
6. Get them used to tidying up
Children will be expected to tidy up equipment, pencils and books after they have used them in class so getting your child into the habit of tidying up will be helpful when they start school. It may not be that they always pick up after themselves (what child does!) but understanding that there will be a time of the day where they need to tidy – whether they are in the mood to or not – can be a very useful idea to plant in their minds.
7. Don’t be a Debbie downer
It’s very important for you to avoid phrases such as, "I hated school" or, "I was terrible in school" around your child as they might be picked up and create a negative attitude towards school. Another thing to remember is that your child will be able to tell if you are stressed or anxious about their first day so try to be like a swan; serene on the surface even if you’re paddling at 70mph beneath the water.
8. Reduce their nerves at bedtime
A great way to reduce any nerves your child might have the night before they go to school is to get them to bed early and read them a book. This can be a story about school or something that you know will help them to calm down and relax. The one on one time this creates can also give you another opportunity to talk about the next day. Try to avoid your child watching TV or playing on an electronic game before bed though as the last thing you want is for them to be wound up, going to bed late and then being grumpy the next day!
Another important thing to be aware of before you child starts school is what supplies they need. You’re probably already putting their names on everything 'just in case' and we can help with that – our personalised pencil case and stationary set is perfect for new school starters. But if this isn’t what you’re looking for, take a look at our great School Gifts section for some bright ideas.
If you've got any tips to help with their first day at school then why not tell us on our Facebook page?