It seems like only yesterday they were your tiny new baby just home from the hospital. And yet somehow five years have gone by and you’re asking yourself how they got so grown up. Starting school is a huge step in raising kids and can be stressful for the parents and child. Here’s some tips to make the transition smoothly.
A psychologist’s perspective
Raelene Dundon from Okey Dokey Childhood Psychology has a fact sheet for parents to prepare their child and themselves for this big change. Some important excerpts include:
- Keep an eye out for orientation or transition sessions
- Practice independence at home so they can repeat it at school - dressing themselves, packing their school bag or helping pack their own lunch
- Visit their school beforehand so they are familiar with its surroundings
- Connect with other parents - to organise playdates and help your child make new friends, and to ease some of your own worries!
- Keeping a consistent routine the first few weeks will help your child feel more comfortable
- Consider packing extra clothes in their bag in case of accidents (more common than you think)
Set aside time to play
Going from free time everyday to a more structured environment is a shock to most youngsters. Even though they’ll have dedicated breaks in their school day, finding time at home for free play will help maintain a sense of normalcy as they adjust to their new daily routine. Playing pretend with dollhouses or activity tables is a great way to nurture their imagination.
Be their support network
Making the leap from preschool to big school is a new adventure for everyone in the family. It’s more important than ever that your child is able to rely on you for comfort and support. Penny Gibson from Capacity Therapeutic Services explains in more detail:
“There is perhaps no bigger transition for children (and their families) than the one to school. It is a significant moment for children and although it is mostly navigated successfully, some will experience anxiety, uncertainty and confusion. Children have aspirations for school and expect it will be different to preschool. The most important thing is having the support from responsive adults through age-appropriate expectations, establishing routine, planning, and communication. This support helps children to feel that school is a worthwhile place to be, where people care about them and where they are likely to succeed.”
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Set them up for success
Like the rest of us, kids are easily distracted by all the fun things they have in their home. Homework is going to be a new feeling and you can get a head start on good study habits by setting them up with their own space to do after school work. There’s plenty of options in kids furniture (from basic tables and chairs to their very own desk!) that are ideal for getting them used to bringing work home from school.
Starting school doesn’t have to be scary - in fact it’s better for everyone if it’s not! Working on these techniques can help everyone feel more comfortable with the changes that are coming.