The countdown is on for families with children starting primary school this year. Classrooms across the country will soon be welcoming new students.
For children starting primary school for the first time, preparation goes a long way towards helping them feel safe and settled as quickly as possible.
Here are some activities you can do before the big day to make everyone, children and parents, feel relaxed and comfortable about the new routine.
1) Practise getting to school
Part of alleviating nerves for your child is ensuring they’re as familiar as they can be with their new routine before they have to do it for real. Try walking the route you’ll take to school so they can picture how the first part of their day will go.
You can still do this if you’ll be taking them to school by car. Drive the route as often as possible and point out some key landmarks they can look out for on the way, so that the journey becomes recognisable.
Ensure your son or daughter understands where you’ll be dropping them off and picking them up from. You can even talk about which teachers they’ll see waiting for them.
2) Set up playdates with their new classmates
Some children go to school knowing several other children in their class, but others don’t know a single person. While many children are very good at playing with children they’ve just met, not every child finds this easy. Make it easier for them by organising playdates through the summer holiday.
Many schools offer opportunities for parents to meet each other before the start of the academic year, and some ensure parents have each other’s contact details too.
3) Have picnic school lunches
Your child might be used to eating with you, or the food they got at their kindergarten or simply to a quieter lunchroom.
Help them get used to the difference by packing a picnic with the type of lunch they’ll be having at school. That way, they’ll be confident opening their lunchbox, dealing with packaging or selecting their food.
4) Get them to try getting dressed and pack their bag
Lots of children are all too happy to show off their new school uniform. Take advantage of this by making sure they know where they’ll find their uniform and shoes every morning, and where possible, how to put it all on.
Although you’ll want to avoid messy activities, it might also pay to let them play in their uniform a few times so it doesn’t feel unfamiliar when they start school. Allowing them to wear in their shoes is a good idea too.
Your child might also need a school bag. Assuming they do, you might want to start familiarising them with what’ll be inside and how to recognise their bag amongst everyone else’s. Consider if there’s anything in particular they’ll want in there, like spare underwear in case of an accident.
5) Set aside some time to talk about any worries
While we all like to think we know our children inside out, you might be surprised at some of the things they’re wondering about before starting school. When you prepare your child for starting primary school, schedule some time to talk and relax. Talk about their new school a lot and ask plenty of questions to gauge what they understand or what they haven’t yet grasped.
From this, you’ll be able to explain any processes they’re not clear on or talk about how they’ll deal with different situations at school - providing them with some easy to use strategies. Remember that even the concept of putting their hand up is new.
Don’t stop finding time to discuss how they’re feeling once school starts either. Plan a restful few weeks with plenty of time to talk and some outdoor activities to burn off any restlessness.
Before and after school care options at Primary School
As well as preparing your child for school, you may need to adjust your own routine or work out how the school run fits in.
To make this easier on parents, lots of schools offer out of school hours care, either before or after the formal school day. These sessions are great for parents who need to drop their children to school before lessons begin, or who will struggle to get back for finishing time.
However, before and after school care also provides an enriching environment where children get to meet other children outside of their class, try new activities for fun and develop their social skills.
Check our website to see if your school is a Camp Australia location or to request a new program.