Getting your child ready for the first day of school
1. Talk About What They Can Expect
To prepare your child for school, talk to them about all the exciting things they are likely to encounter. The new friends they could meet, playing with friends, reading stories and learning. The aim is to remain positive about school in the weeks leading up to the big day. Experts report, the more positive a parent is about school, the more confident and positive the child will be.
Most schools encourage parents and children to do pre-visits prior to the child starting school. This can be a great opportunity to prepare your child for the environment they’ll enter on their first day, get them used to the routines and perhaps even make a friend. It’s also an opportunity for you to chat with the teacher about how the class works, what to expect on the first day and begin to build up a rapport with your child’s teacher.
2. Day One Drills
Preparation is key to avoid last-minute mishaps and additional stress. Here are a few ways you can prepare for day one:
- Have a full run-through of the morning routine - before the big day. From brushing teeth to breakfast, practise everything to get out the door and to school on time.
- Clearly mark all your child’s belongings (bag, lunchbox, hat, water-bottle and school supplies).
- Let your child try their hand at everything they’ll need to do while they’re at school; from unzipping their bag to opening their lunchbox and taking off their jumper.
- Chat with your child to make sure they know the teacher’s name and how they will handle common situations such as what they should do between the last bell ringing and seeing you again.
- Try getting your child in to an appropriate food routine before they start school. For example a banana at morning teatime, sandwiches at lunch and an apple in the afternoon.
3. Managing The Nerves: Helping Kids With School Anxiety
Starting something new can make anyone uncertain and uneasy, no matter their age. It’s completely normal for your child to be worried in the lead up to their first day at school. Here are some tips by Fiona Baker from kidspot.co.nz on helping children with anxiety:
- Encourage your child to gradually face their fears. Break the experience down into small steps so your child still feels in control of the situation.
- Providing appropriate reactions is important. Deal with the situation calmly and don’t make a fuss - but when your child is behaving bravely, then you can make a fuss.
- Allow your child to make their own mistakes and don’t try to fix everything for them.
- If you’re particularly concerned about your child settling in and their anxiety level, talk to the teacher. They are generally experienced in dealing with similar situations and can offer a helping hand to manage the transition.
4. Complete The Free Health And Development Check For 4-Year-Olds
The B4 School Check is a free nationwide programme that aims to identify and address any health, behavioural, social, or developmental concerns which could affect a child’s ability to learn. It is recommended by the Ministry of Health that your child completes this check-up so they have the best possible start at school. If you can, complete this check-up well in advance of your child’s first day so you have plenty of time to work on any focus areas.
5. Get Your Child’s Eyesight Checked
Do you notice your child having difficulty identifying family members at a distance? Are they blinking more than other children? Do they have to sit very close to the TV?
Any of these signs could be due to poor eyesight and an indication your child should visit an optometrist. Even after school starts, it’s important to have your child’s eyesight tested every two years. For free eye tests for kids under 16 years, check out Specsavers.
If you are an nib health insurance member, your policy will detail if prescription glasses are covered.