Are you dreading your child starting school?
If you are a stay at home parent, you may be dreading the beginning of September when your child starts school.
If it is your only child, or the youngest child, not having them at home through the day is going to make a big difference to you.
If your child is already in childcare at nursery how do you prepare them for the change to school?
The build up to starting school can be huge, and it’s never too early to get started. The big thing is to watch what you say and try not to make them nervous. If you have negative memories of school and mention them to your child you are going to make things difficult for them. Try to get the whole family singing from the same sheet – if everyone is telling your child how positive school is then they will go into it with a positive attitude.
If you tell your child how much you are going to miss them, this too will unsettle them. If you get upset because your child is starting this new part of your life then they will too.
Start talking about school as early as possible – there are some great story books which give positive messages – read them to your child before bed.
You can do a lot to help your child be ready for school – teachers don’t expect them to be able to read and write when they start, but they do expect little ones to have some basic practical skills:
• Being able to go to the toilet themselves – including washing hands afterwards
• Getting ready themselves – putting their coat on, or getting changed for PE
• Recognising their own name so they can find their own things
• Eating by themselves – including using cutlery
• Understanding what it means to be quiet, listen to instructions and not interrupt
• Knowing how to share with others
It’s important that your child can do these things so they don’t feel they are behind the class, and have confidence. Start early by allowing your child to practice doing things on their own.
Get involved with the school so your child can visit, meet their teacher and other classmates. If you didn’t get your first choice of school, don’t let your child think they are going to a poor establishment. They are adult concerns and children can do well anywhere.
On the first day, make sure you have everything ready so that the new routine is easy to follow. Don’t let the first morning be stressful as both you and your child will be upset.
Try to be on time – to drop them off and pick them up. This makes your child feel safe.
Make sure they know who is picking them up and what you will be doing after school.
Try not to show you are upset when you drop them off – if you cling to them they will want to cling to you!
If they go into school without a fuss don’t be upset, it’s what you have been preparing them for.
If they ask you what you will be doing, make it sound as boring as possible. Save the exciting stuff for when they come home.
Don’t bombard them with questions when they come out – they are likely to be tired and being asked lots of questions will make them confused.
If they bring out a picture or some piece of art for you, put it to one side and praise them first – you don’t want them to think that what they do is more important than who they are!
What about you? As a parent, you know this day is coming, but having no little one around you all day can leave your life empty.
Just as you are preparing your child, you may need to prepare yourself.
Thinking about what you are going to do to keep yourself occupied. If you are going back to work for the first time in a while, you may need to think of ways to boost your confidence. You may feel that your role in the family is changing – it’s important to address these things as they can lead to low mood, depression or anxiety. Make sure you have a good support network around you and people you can talk to who won’t dismiss your feelings.
If things are really bad for you or your child and your anxiety is taking over your life, NECS can provide counselling for anyone aged 4+.