Well, the time has come. So many of our Little Pirates will be starting school this September! It all starts with shiny new school shoes that look so grown up you never imagined your little one would fit into them. Then all of a sudden, it’s bookbags, hair bobbles, ties and trousers – a far cry from the homely, comfy clothes they’re used to running around in. It’s a big change for everyone, from nervous little ones to tearful big ones, and it’s normal to feel apprehensive.
With the start of term rapidly approaching, we wanted to share our tips for making that transition just a little bit easier when September arrives!
Try to find local Summer Holiday meetups
Lots of local schools and primary’s are setting up Social Meet Ups for their new starters this summer. Typically set in a venue designed to help the children interact and socialise, the meet ups are a great chance for your kids to meet their new classmates ahead of term. For parents, this means that you get meet other parents and teachers, to make you feel more comfortable and relaxed when the first day arrives. It’s a great opportunity for any nervous school starters to make some friends and practice being around lots of children at once in a calm, structured setting.
Talk to your children about their fears
Although it might be a new topic to approach, it’s important that your little ones know they can come to you with their worries and fears. Whether they’re struggling with seperation anxiety, nervous about making friends or confused about what school will entail, you can help calm them down and explain to them that it will all be ok. Making casual references to school and the new term can help make it a friendlier topic, and allowing the children to feel involved in the pre-school process, i.e. choosing their lunch box, school shoes or pencil case makes it seem more fun and exciting.
Encourage your children to ask questions
As well as approaching the topic of school, it’s also important that your children can ask questions about this new change. You never what they might worrying about or struggling to understand and it might be something big or something simple to solve. This is also great practise for when they actually start school and might need help from teachers or TAs.
Set up practice school sessions
To help make the school day feel a little bit less intimidating, try and set up practice school sessions to help ease them into the routine. Schedule some mini lessons where the children get to read, draw or practice their words, set lunch times and encourage them to wear their school uniform to make it feel less alien on the day. The faster they can feel comfortable in a school setting, the faster they’ll settle in.
Ask others to share their school stories
A useful way to keep the discourse about schools open and fun is to find others who have recently started school or remember starting school and ask them to share their stories. Whether they went to the same school or not, invite them to share positive, uplifting stories about their school experience to help reframe the fear of school for your little one. It’s especially important to ask people that they trust, so siblings, family members or close friends, to make them feel more secure and safe in this new environment.
Plan fun things to do the weekend after school starts
Make sure you plan an activity to do with your little one the weekend after they start school (like a trip to Pirates Play Centre!). This will give them something else to focus on but also something exciting to look forward to after their week is over. Another good idea is to make it an open activity, with room for more invites, so that if your child decides they want to invite your new friends, they have the perfect opportunity to bond.
Encourage your child to spend more time with others
Although this might be a big struggle for both of you, it’s important that your child learns that time away from their parents isn’t always going to be scary. If they can spend time with another adult and have a great time, where they feel safe and happy, it’s going to make the transition to school so much easier. Plus, it’s a great time for you to adjust to being away from your little one.
Boost their confidence constantly
Some children can feel unprepared or insecure about their abilities when starting a new term. Making the jump from a safe, carefree nursery or playgroup environment into one of structured learning can put a lot of pressure on your little ones. So in the weeks building up to term time, keep giving them little boosts of school-related compliments. Mentioning how smart they look in their uniforms, how good they are at reading, how polite they are, how friendly they are…all traits that can embed themselves into your child’s behaviour in the classroom.