Is your child starting school in September?
The experience of having your baby starting school while exciting, may be daunting. A little preparation goes along way. Parents have many questions regarding helping your child born prematurely prepare for school. On these 4 part-blog series, early educator Ashleigh Judge will address some key issues.
Blog 3 - Preparing for The First Day of School
By Ashleigh Judge
Many schools allow students beginning kindergarten and their families a chance to see the school and meet their new teacher ahead of time. If possible, visit key areas such as the classroom, washrooms, gym and library. Some children enjoy and benefit from having photos of the school, classroom and teacher and reviewing these photos frequently in the weeks leading up to the start of school. You may also want to practice walking or taking the route to school with your child ahead of time. Talk to your child about what will and will not change in routines once school begins. In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, try to have your child wake up and go to bed a little bit earlier each day until your child can wake-up and go to bed at the times that will be needed on school days. In the months and weeks before school begins, allow your child to practice putting on and taking off outdoor clothing independently. Have “picnics” and allow your child to practice opening food and beverage containers.
It may take some trial and error to determine which routines work best for your family. Some children need extra time to get ready in the morning. It can be helpful to prepare lunches, pack school bags and pick-out clothes the night before school. Once school begins, talk to your child about which parts of school and the daily routines they like and don’t like. Even if things cannot be changed, acknowledge your child’s thoughts and feeling and your own!
It is normal and okay for both you and your child to feel many different emotions about starting school. Children often experience separation anxiety and may cry when parents leave them at school. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Let them know when you will be back and reassure them that you will know where to find them. Remind them of all the things they will enjoy at school. Set up a “goodbye ritual” (eg. a hug and high five just before you leave them at school each morning) and then leave promptly despite crying or protests from your child. This may be very difficult for both of you at first. Over time, your child will learn that you always come back, that they can trust their teacher and that school is a fun and interesting place. Your child’s teacher likely has a lot of experience in supporting anxious children in adjusting to school. If you are nervous or have any concerns or questions about your child, ask your child’s teacher.
Ashleigh Judge is a Registered Early Childhood Educator in Ontario and holds an Early Childhood Resource Consultant Certificate. She has experience is providing early childhood development and parent/caregiver education programs in person and online. She also has experience in providing individual developmental support plans and strategies to young children and their families.