When your child starts school it is a very big deal, both for them and for you. It’s a big milestone for them to reach and it marks a real change.
As emotional it may feel, it’s an exciting time too. Here’s a few ideas to help you and your child feel as confident and prepared as possible for their big first day at school:
Get them used to the school
If the school has settling sessions available, take your child if you can. It will help them to get used to the new setting, the staff members and their new classmates. If the school doesn’t run these sessions then ask for a time to visit. Even just walking past the school and talking about it will help your child to get familiar with their new setting.
In can help to read some books about starting school in the weeks and months ahead of your child’s first day. It gives them more opportunities to think about it, and to talk about any concerns they may have. It also helps them to know more about what to expect when they’re there.
If your child raises any worries about school, make sure you take the time to talk them through properly, no matter how small these concerns may seem. This is a big change, and even small things might make your child anxious (e.g. “Where will the toilet be?”).
Find out exactly which school clothes your child will need and buy them at least a few weeks early, before stocks get low. Let your child help with the uniform shopping, and also let them try it on. Involving them in things like this helps to give them a feeling of control over all the changes they’re facing. It’s also good to let them practice taking their uniform on and off so you’re confident that they can do it easily for PE classes.
Where to buy school uniforms
There will be certain items that have the school logo on, and these will need to be bought from a specialist uniform supplier (ask your school which one). Buy a couple of these, and then get the rest of the uniform from supermarkets to help keep costs down. Make sure that there aren’t any difficult buttons or clasps on any of the clothing.
Don’t be tempted to buy shoes with laces as most children starting school are still too little to manage them. Stick to velcro, and get some sturdy, scuff-resistant shoes that are comfortable and that you don’t mind getting muddy.
Your child needs to be able to manage all the practical aspects of looking after themselves, like going to the toilet, getting dressed, and wiping their nose etc. Before they start school make sure that they practice all these things and are confident with them.
Your child will be in a class with lots of other children who all have the same things as them, so make sure that you put a name label on everything you send your child to school with. You can buy iron-on labels, or ones that you sew in, or alternatively, you can write their names on the clothing labels with a laundry pen. Don’t forget to label the insides of their shoes and wellies, too.
If your child can’t write their name yet, try to help them recognise it so that it’s easy for them to find their peg, or the right jumper etc.
Make a good routine
School may change your whole morning routine so make sure you think through exactly how it will work for your family. Plan in plenty of time to get everything organised so that you don’t forget all the things your child will need to take with them.
Don’t let your child put their uniform on until they’ve had their breakfast, brushed their teeth and washed their face. This will reduce the chances of them needing a uniform change before leaving the house.
Good luck to everyone that’s approaching this big change. It’s an exciting time for your child, and for you - enjoy it!
Jo Murricane is a freelance writer and blogger, based in Leeds. Read all about her food and lifestyle investigations on her blog, jo-blogs.co.uk.