How to Calm First Day Anxieties
It’s no surprise that children experience nerves and some anxiety about starting school. They will be in a less familiar environment wearing a new uniform where the routines and expectations are all unknown. Yet, there are a number of things you can do to avoid tears and trauma in a weeks time.
1. Downplay the milestone:
Placing over emphasis, using countdowns and broadcasting your own excitement about the ‘big day’ in front of your child is not recommended. Instead, liken attending school to being very similar to attending preschool or daycare. Remind them they that they have already visited the classrooms on a number of occasions and it is really just another place to learn and socialise.
2. Familiarise your child with their teacher:
You should all have received an email and your child a letter which indicates who their teacher is. I encourage you all to read this letter a number of times with your child to allow them to feel like their teacher is already someone familiar and a person that they feel can be a support.
3. Visit school to re-familiarise your child:
We deliberately asked your child to write a letter to their teacher and hand deliver it to their class letterbox so that they had an excuse to come and check things out. When visiting, allow time for your child to wander around, locate things like toilets and the canteen as these are the things that may worry them.
4. Routines of the First Day:
Read the “First Day at Big School” booklet that your child received when attending orientation as it helps allow school routines to seem familiar. As you read, ask your child what things they are looking forward to and what things they may be worrying about.
5. Return to healthy bed routines:
It is now time to lose the later night holiday routines and encourage your child back into a normal sleep routine, where they go to bed early and rise with at least an hour before they need to leave for school. This way your child will rise refreshed and energised ready to start school next week.
6. Be Prepared:
It reduces stress and anxiety on school mornings to have bags almost packed and ready in a tub near the door the night before. It also helps to have school shoes and anything else your child needs also in this tub so the morning does not become a treasure hunt.