The day when your child starts school for the very first time marks a huge milestone in family life, and for thousands of 4 year olds across the UK that day is just a few weeks away. However, many parents make one big mistake which means that starting school becomes more, not less, stressful for their children…
According to Dawn Burden, play expert and director of The National Book Club for Nearly Schoolers parents are often so worried about how their children will cope with the first day at school that they ignore their own anxiety, which can often lead to the few weeks before school starts with a parent who is struggling with their emotions – with disastrous consequences for the child.
‘No parent wants to be the one in the playground sobbing behind dark glasses, but unless parents prepare themselves for the start of school, this is often what ends up happening.’ Says Dawn. ‘ If a child looks to their parents for reassurance and sees someone struggling with their emotions it creates huge anxiety, making settling into school trickier than it should be.’
If you are the emotional type (and we challenge even the most stoic not to feel a little bit wobbly as your precious small person totters through the school gate!) then its worth really thinking about what might set you off, and doing a few very simple things throughout the Summer to prepare yourself. You will feel confident that you won’t be dissolving into tears as you approach the school gates – which will mean your child should bounce into school filled with confidence rather than trepidation!’
Here are just three of The National Book Club for Nearly Schoolers’ quirky tips for preparing a smooth and happy start to school life for both you and your child!
1 Buy the school uniform as early as you can and play ‘getting dressed’ games to get your child into their clothes a good few times before school starts. Seeing your small child, rosy with pride, trying to look grownup in a school uniform two sizes too big is bound to end in tears…so make sure you get used to the sight! (Plus, he or she will know how to get dressed and undressed for PE lessons!)
2. Don’t leave getting to school on time to guess work. Have a practice journey one morning during the summer term, when other children are going to school. Draw a map together of little landmarks you might walk or drive past. On that first morning, you’ll both be focussed on looking for these rather than the end of the journey…
3. Give them a tool kit!! Practise the very basics – putting your hand up, asking for the toilet, finding a teacher if you are hurt or worried, asking other children if they would like to play. Spend some time ‘make believing’ being at school. This will give you the confidence to know that no matter what happens they will have the tools to ask for help!
To help families across the UK prepare for school life, The National Book Club for Nearly Schoolers chooses six of the best starting school books for children and from now until September posts the books, along with a brilliant activity sheet detailing ideas just like the ones above, one at a time to each member of the club.
‘There is something very exciting about receiving a parcel through the post,’ says Dawn, ‘And when this parcel contains the tools for a brilliant start to School for the whole family, it makes it even more special!’