Beginning school is an exciting yet daunting prospect. We hope that these tips will assist you in organising yourself for this exciting new adventure!
Preparing Your Child for School
Purchase a backpack together with your child. If possible, let your child choose it himself. This gives him a sense of control and emphasizes the fact that he is a “big kid” starting preschool.
Label all items—backpack, jacket, shoes, blanket, teddy bear, etc.—with your child’s name and teacher’s name in permanent ink.
Figure out how your child will get to school and how she will come home. Talk to your child about the morning and afternoon routine so that she understands that she will be safe, okay, and cared for. Make sure your child meets her before- and/or after-school caregiver if you are using one.
Start using your child’s “school bedtime.” Children often go to bed later as the summer months, and longer days, kick in. Help your child get into a preschool schedule by keeping to his or her school bedtime, beginning about 2 weeks before school starts.
The First Day
Wake up early enough so that you and your child don’t have to rush to get to school.
Make breakfast for your child and, if possible, sit down to eat together—or at least talk with her as she eats and you get ready.
Review the day’s routine (what school will be like, how your child will get to school/come home).
Pack your child’s backpack together. If your child is bringing lunch, select foods that you know are his favourites. Having some familiarity on his first day is helpful as he adjusts to so many changes.
Let your child choose a special stuffed animal or blanket to bring to school with her. These familiar items can help children make the transition from home to school, and can also make naptime easier, too. You may want to send your child with a family photo or favourite book as well. These familiar objects can help if she feels lonely during the day.
Settling Your Child
On your child’s first day in Foundation at HeadStart we recommend you allow time to settle your child and to familiarise yourself with school procedures. On arrival in the Foundation department, you will be met by members of Admin and introduced to your child’s Homeroom teacher, deputy teacher as well as nannies.
Your child’s Homeroom teacher is responsible for settling your child each day, communicating with parents in the morning as to the child’s wellbeing, and supporting your child through the separation from parent period. The morning programme is structured so that time is allowed for this settling process. We plan a settling time between 8:00am and 9:00am.
Your child’s first day at Preschool is exciting for them, however for many children it is a first experience of care outside the family home. Your child is welcome to bring a favourite cuddly toy to support them in the settling process. In the long term, however, we do not encourage toys from home as conflict arises in the classroom when toys from home are not able to be shared.
These strategies can ease the jitters of separating on your child’s first day at preschool.
Plan to stay a little while. Staying for 15-30 minutes on that first morning can help ease the transition. Together, the two of you can explore the classroom, meet some other children, play with a few toys. When you see that your child is comfortable, it is time to leave. If he is having a harder time getting engaged, you may want to ask your child’s teacher to stay with your child as you say good-bye so that when you leave, he can turn to another caring adult for support.
Keep your tone positive and upbeat. Children pick up on the reactions of the trusted adults in their lives. So try not to look worried or sad, and don’t linger too long. Say a quick, upbeat good-bye and reassure your child that all will be well.
Think about creating a special good-bye routine. For example, you can give your child a kiss on his or her palm to “hold” all day long. Or, the two of you can sing a special song together before you leave. Good-bye routines are comforting to children and help them understand and prepare for what will happen next.
Resist the urge to ‘rescue’ your child. Try not to run back in the classroom if you hear your child crying, as upsetting as this can be. This is a big change and your child may, quite understandably, feel sad and a little scared. But if you run back in, it sends the message that he is only okay if you are there and it is likely to prolong your child’s distress and make it harder for him to adapt. Please rest assured that teachers have many years of experience with helping families make the shift and with some time and patience your child will be looking forward to going to school and meeting his/her friends.