Starting a school is a big milestone for your child. You have finally selected the right school for your child and completed with the school admission procedures. On the one hand, you are excited that your child is starting a school, going to have fun, learn new things and will make new friends. On the other hand, you are afraid that your child is venturing out into the big world without you. Both of these emotions are normal for all. There will be separation anxiety in both the parents and the child. Emotionally preparing your child (and yourself) for school may take some intentional effort, but it eases the transition.

Here are the five ways to prepare your child for school:

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Talk to your child about school

It is natural for your child to feel nervous about going to the school since this is going to be a big change for them. So, help them to understand about school by giving them an idea about what he/she will do there. But do not make it a big deal as your child may get overwhelmed. Keep the conversations relaxed and casual. You may read out story books with the school pictures and school concepts to your child. This helps the child to develop a positive and friendly image of school in their mind.

Visit the school before starting

Check with your child’s school if they have an orientation program for the new parents. Let your child accompany you for the orientation program. Your child will get an opportunity to spend time at the school in your presence. Show your child the school classroom and point to things around the classroom. You can also ask your child what he/she liked in the classroom etc. Let your child spend some time at the school play area. Let them look around and see what games or toys they can play with at the school. Let them get excited about coming to the school.  Familiarity of the place helps to reduce anxiety.

Get organized

Take your child for shopping to buy school bag, lunch box, water bottle, shoes, socks etc. If possible, let your child choose them. This gives your child a sense of importance that he/she is a big boy/girl starting school. Label all your child’s belongings with a permanent marker.

Role Play

Role Play is very effective for the children to feel in control and also to build imagination. Act out school daily routines with your child. Take turn in playing different characters like teacher, child, parent etc. Act like you are going to school, wave goodbye to parents, hanging up your school bag, sitting with friends, playing games, listening to stories, eating snacks, saying bye to teacher and friends, coming back home etc. Children will feel relaxed and excited as they could predict what will happen in the school.

Develop a routine

As your child will start a new school schedule, it would be better to develop a routine at home too so that your child gets enough sleep at night and comfortable during the morning. You may also need to develop eating routine at home. As children may take some time to get adjusted to new routine, it would be better to start this as early as possible.

On the First Day of the School

  • Ensure that your child had enough sleep during the night.
  • Do not rush in the morning. Allow plenty of time for the child to eat and get ready.
  • Your child may take his/her favorite soft toy along to feel comfortable in the new environment
  • Stay Calm. Do not show your anxiety to the child, instead put a happy face. Children will pick your feelings.
  • Hug your child and tell him/her you will be back to pick him/her up. Keep the good byes short and sweet.
  • Once you drop the child, try not to worry. Have trust in the school staff that they will take care of your child. And know that if there is a problem, they will contact you. In most of the cases children will be fine after parents walk out the door or teacher diverts them with games or with other interesting activities.

In spite of all the efforts by you, there are chances that your child may still have struggles with the new environment. Allow time for the child to settle in. Settling in may take a few days for some children which is absolutely normal. Eventually, your child will get through this just fine.

 By Kavitha
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