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Read with your child
Reading will not only help you bond with your child, it will help you start discussions. Read the stories, ask them what they thought and start conversations about what you have read. Get them into the habit of discussing things with you. What can be quite useful is reading books about school to help your child open up about how they feel. Use this time to find out what they feel anxious about or what they might fear about starting school.
Listening and discussing
Have family discussions and teach your child the importance of taking turns to talk, not interrupting others when they talk and sharing news. You can try having your own circle time at home with their dolls and teddy bears or other siblings. You can even discuss your time at school and share some funny and positive experiences and memories from when you were in school. Just remember to never say anything negative about school.
Teach your child to recognize their name
Your child may or may not be able to read or write simple words by the time they start school but it is important for them to be able to recognize their own name when picking out lunchboxes, jackets, bottles and other labeled items at school. With your child, explore what letters are in their name and what they look like and stick their name up around the house in areas that they will see and notice it.
Visit the school with your child
If possible, visit the school with your child before they start. It would be good fo your child to know what to expect on the day. You can visit at Open Day and even try to meet their teacher. If you can’t visit the facility together, check their website for photos and talk to your child about the things at school that they might like – point out the fun areas that you think they will enjoy playing in.
Shop for school items with your child
Go pick up their uniform, school bag, stationery and other essential items together. Discuss what you are picking up and let them choose the ones they like. Make this shopping trip an adventure for them and enjoy this time together.
Teach your child to dress themselves, feed themselves, tie their shoelaces, zip up their own jackets and go to the toilet without any help. Ensure your child is potty trained and knows the importance of washing their hands properly.
Encourage your child to play with other children. The transition to school is usually a lot easier for children who are used to being around other children their age. You can do this by sending them to a nursery or by ensuring they have regular playdates. Teach them to smile at others, say hello and introduce themselves. Encourage them to approach other children in play areas and parks and make friends.
Go to an adult
Teach them to go to adults to address any concerns they have. Let them know they can go up to their teacher when they have a problem and that they can always come home and share concerns with you.
Be social yourself
When your children see you being social, they will most likely be social too. Go to school events, meet other mothers, arrange playdates and enjoy being in their company. You can also try volunteering at the school or joining the school’s parent committee.
Put your feelings aside
You might be extremely anxious about your child going to school for the first time but it is important that you do not pass this anxiety onto them – remember, your child can easily pick up on your emotions. Always talk about school very positively and enthusiastically so they look forward to going.
All of these steps will hopefully ease the transition for your child but remember not to bombard them with school talk all the time. Bring it up casually and don’t talk about it all the time or your efforts may have a reverse effect and make your child even more anxious about this new beginning. Also, don’t over-hype it because eventually your child is going to go there and you don’t want them to be let down if it doesn’t live up to their expectations!