Starting school can be a really exciting milestone for your child – they may be on their own for the first time in their lives and although it’s a little scary, this is a great opportunity for them to learn independence. However, it can also be a nervous time for both child and parent. Below are some frequently asked questions and some practical tips which will help both you and your child settle in to the new routine.
1. My Child is nervous about Starting School
Try and talk to your child to discover what they are nervous about. Reading children’s books about going to school can help start a discussion around the topic, and encourage children to bring up any fears or worries they may have. You can then talk through their worries and come up with solutions.
2. My child doesn’t want to go to school
Help your child look forward to starting school by getting them involved as much as you can. For example, you can take them shopping for their new uniform, and let them choose which shoes they would like (from a few appropriate options – this makes them feel like their input is valuable, without you having to explain why they can’t have the bright green trainers with flashing lights!).
3. I’m worried that I won’t be there to help my child
Children need to be independent sooner or later! It can be useful for P.E. and outside play to let your child practice dressing and undressing with their new uniform. You can also help prepare your child by letting them practice eating, using the toilet and tidying up on their own – their new teachers will really appreciate it too! Praising your child when they try to do these things for themselves will boost their confidence.
It can also be a concern for parents that they won’t be there to solve their child’s problems. They may get upset or have a disagreement with other children, but it is really important for their personal, social and emotional development that children learn to deal with these problems themselves; these are key skills for later life. Teachers will always be on hand to deal with any particular issues your child may have.
4. My child might not fit into the school routine
Starting school will give your child new routines and rules to learn, such as needing to concentrate and keep quiet during class time, listening to the teacher, and following instructions. Playing ‘schools’ is a fun way to introduce your child to the school routine through role play, a method often used by children to make sense of life situations. You can also play ‘Simon Says’ to help your child practice listening and following instructions.
We have tested and reviewed lots of fun toys and apps to help 4-5 year olds practice useful skills for school:
5. My child might not make any friends
When speaking to parents we have found that more than a third are most worried about their child making friends at school. Having someone to enjoy play time with can make school much more enjoyable for children, and something to really look forward to. You can prepare your child for making new friends by helping them practice important social skills, including sharing and communication. Board games are a fun way to develop these skills, and it is also important to have plenty of quality family time so children can learn how to communicate from their role models.
It’s also a really good idea, if possible, to contact the parents of some children who will attending the same school as your child and arrange a play date in advance. Familiar faces on your child’s first day can make them less nervous and also help them make friends.