Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to Prepare Your Child for the First Year of School

You may be a ball of nerves with the thought of your little one beginning school, but to your young child, starting at a new school in a new environment can be even more intimidating. Thus, it’s important to adequately prepare your child for his or her first year of primary school in order to help alleviate some stress and make him or her feel more at ease and confident about the big changes that are about to occur. To make the transition a smooth one, it’s key to sit down and have a chat with your child in order to prepare him or her for this new, somewhat scary, significant part of life. By helping your child get mentally and emotionally prepared for what’s ahead, you can help develop a positive attitude and love for learning, making this new change a happy and positive one.

Discuss What Your Child Should Expect

Prior to the new school year, you should begin to focus on different aspects of school life. Have an open dialogue about school and encourage your child to be more social—take him or her to new places to try new activities so that he or she can become used to meeting new people and trying new activities, which can help him or her get better adjusted to the new learning environment. Additionally, ask your child what he or she thinks about going to school and if he or she feels scared or nervous. This is also a great opportunity to get feedback from your child about starting school as this will encourage your child to ask questions. You may want to organize a play date with the families of other children who will be attending the same school as your child so that he or she will know other children before school begins.

Encourage Independence

Have your child do more things on his or her own, such as dressing, going to the toilet, and opening drink boxes. Although it may be difficult to let go yourself, giving your child more independence by allowing him or her to do more things without your assistance will be a major help once school begins. Ask your child to assist you at home, the grocery store, or other places. Remember it’s important to remind our children that they are growing up and must be able to do things on their own, especially at school.

Develop a School Routine

At least a week before school begins, show your child where the school is and describe how you will get there each day. Have your child accompany you when you pick up his or her school uniform (I recommend M&S, have tried other cheaper options, but M&S can often last for two years and did I mention no ironing???) and other school supplies. This will get your child excited about the prospect of starting school. Most importantly, go through a trial run of the first day of school. Show your child how to pack his or her school bag and discuss what he or she should expect at lunch time. Again, communication is key, so talk with your child about what will happen once the school day ends, particularly the arrangements for after-school care.

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