The Big Day approaches when your little one makes a huge step into the world by starting school. They will be asked around a million times „Are you excited about starting school?“, they are expected to nod excitedly each time and be told how big they are and how wonderful / awful it will be. Poor kids, the anticipation is huge and poor parents, the responsibility feels just as overwhelming too.
I have been a school mum for nearly a year now and a primary teacher for coming up to ten years. I read so often about how scared people are about their little ones going to school and I remember shedding a few tears last year, so my five tips are really to help deal with this transition time.
- Celebrate! In Germany we had a big party the weekend before my daughter started school. My parents came over from the UK and they loved the idea. My daughter went to her new school for an assembly, saw the past year school starters doing some songs and theatre, then she got her huge sugar cones filled with sweets and school stuff, met their teacher and see their classroom. After this we went home and had a big party in the garden for family and friends. This obviously isn’t possible if your school doesn’t do this, but you can and should celebrate their big day the weekend before school starts. It’s so nice for children to celebrate their own personal milestone! Get the family over, throw on the BBQ and get everyone to contribute in some way to wishing your little mite well at school.
- Put a family photo in their bag or pencil case. So often I see little ones in my school have a quick look at their photo, give it a kiss or stroke their (mostly) mum’s face. The connection between school and home is so important.
- Talk to them about your school time. Even if your memories are painful and you had an awful time, it can really help your child to know that you have been through the school time too. At first it can just be helpful for them to hear about your school day, how you got there, who your teacher was, kinds of things you learned, what you wore, what you ate, who you sat with etc. As the school year goes on it can really help them to open up about their day if you share funny stories about naughty kids in your class or even times when you were disappointed or struggling. With these new experiences at school sometimes children need you to give them the vocabulary to explain how they felt.
- They are so so so so tired the first few weeks. Our new headteacher gave us parents a talk at the beginning of the year and told us not to expect too much from the kids after school for the first two or three weeks. She was right. The new kids, new routine, new books, shoes and everything else was just exhausting for them! My daughter didn’t start any clubs until after the first half-term.
- Ok I couldn’t resist a practical tip; get your child to label everything. First of all if it’s not labelled it will probably be lost within a month. Second, if you label it all, your child will not recognize it as theirs! Their initials are enough since they are probably still learning to write. You’d be amazed how many children have no idea what their pencil sharpeners or even shoes look like! But they will recognize their writing.
Good luck to all of you new school parents! Enjoy the ride and the first holidays will come around quicker than you ever imagined. I’d love to hear your ideas too.
Alison from Mama Chic