The arrival of September can mean only one thing, aside from the imminence of fall; children across the country are preparing to wave goodbye to the summer holidays and head back to school, while nervous tots and their parents are steeling themselves for that nervous first day. As a parent, it’s only natural that you’ll be anxious about your baby growing up, and that very first step into education. However, school can be an exciting, interesting and enjoyable time for children, and it’s up to you to help your little one prepare for the adventure ahead of them.
Getting ready for a new adventure
That first ‘big day’ is usually earmarked as something of a milestone; it’s the moment your little one graduates from preschool or playgroups and heads into the wide world on their own. While preparing for school is an exciting time, filled with new pencils, uniform and a host of new, friendly faces, such a prospect is undoubtedly daunting – filled also with unfamiliar pencils, a uniform they have never worn before, and a host of strange faces. Although you may well be dreading that first day too, it’s your job as a parent to ensure that your child is prepared as he or she can be; from a new bag and freshly laundered uniform, to pep talks and advice, your child will be looking towards you to make that massive leap into school a lot less scary. So, wipe away your own tears and get ready, because this is one journey you and your child will need to take together.
Preparing for the big day
Is your little one looking forward to their first day at school, or are your pre-bedtime chats now filled with nervous questions and hastily put together answers? Could you be doing more to prepare your child? If you feel there is, please check out these tips…
Getting into a routine
Your child’s routine is about to change dramatically, introducing a regimented lunchtime, start and finish times, and all manner of activities in between. If you’d like to prepare your child for school properly, be sure to take that new schedule into consideration; encourage your child to go to bed a little earlier so that he or she gets a good night sleep, begin to wake them at the time they’ll soon be getting up, and introduce the concept of breakfast to fussier children who perhaps don’t always enjoy that early morning meal.
If your child has a lot of questions regarding school, their new teachers and the subjects they’re likely to be learning, do your best to answer them; your little one needs reassurance at this time, as his or her imagination is likely to be working at warp speed. Try engaging your child in a discussion about your own school days, and chat about the topics you liked most and some of the lighter-hearted moments you enjoyed. Once your child understands a little more about school and its expectations he or she is far more likely to embrace the idea.
I packed my bag…
Starting preschool or heading up to ‘big school’ is a great excuse to go shopping – although not so great on mom’s purse. Create a list of all the things your child will need, cut pictures out of catalogues and embark upon shopping trips together; the more involved your child feels, the easier it will be to embrace the excitement. The idea of a new preschool backpack is likely to tempt a little one who is fond of colors or a particular character, so check out skiphop.com for the very latest in gorgeous bags.
Time to get organized
There’s nothing like being in a rush to throw a morning into chaos, so get everything for your child’s first day prepared the evening before; ensure your child has seen his or her uniform and knows that it’s going to be worn the next day, prepare a packed lunch that can be grabbed on the way out, and pack that brand new bag with fresh paper, stationery and classroom items. Don’t forget to set your own alarm a little earlier too, and get ready for a calm morning that will set you both up for the huge day ahead.
It’s important to remember to have patience; your child will quite likely have days when he or she loves school, and those when it’s the last place on earth they want to be. Remember that you were young once, and that the process of heading to a new school is an utterly terrifying one. Talk through aspects of your child’s day, encourage their enthusiasm for the things they have enjoyed and, above all, offer support and guidance regardless of how many times you have reassured your child at the gates. Preparing your little one for that first day at school involves so much more than making sure their blazer is correctly named, and that they have sufficient pencil crayons in order to embrace their creativity – it’s about kind words, expectations and support, and ensuring you’re there for every step.