Starting school for the first time can be a stressful time — for children and parents!
Luckily, many of our Bub Hub forum members have been through it all already, so we are incredibly lucky to have this advice for first-time school mums and dads.
Here are 10 helpful hints our members found useful when first sending their little ones off to school for the first time.
10 helpful tips for first-time school parents
1. Work with your child’s teacher
Your child’s teacher is there to help your child as much as they can, and while it can be scary not knowing who they are to begin with, remember they’re qualified for the job. Work with them and trust that they know how to teach your child.
If you’re really worried, try to meet them before the children start school or introduce yourself at the start of the first day.
2. Your child is going to be tired
All the excitement and busyness of starting school is enough to exhaust any person, especially a brand new school kiddie.
This big change is going to be a lot of effort, so keep them in a good sleep routine and make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need from healthy foods.
3. They won’t be very lively for the first few weekends
Keep the first two or three weekends fairly quiet and help them regain strength for the coming week.
4. Make their lunch before the morning of their first day
That added stress of preparing and packing a lunchbox while getting your kid up and ready to go can be too much, so do it the night before, and even keep up the habit into the school year too.
5. Speaking of lunch, try to make it easy to eat
If your child is capable of eating a whole apple normally, they may not have the time or energy to bite into a whole one at lunch. Cutting everything up for quick and easy consumption will leave more time for play at lunch, which will decrease stress levels and improve concentration later.
6. Find out what your child’s class will do with their stationery
All those carefully-picked-out pencils, rulers, scissors and other equipment might get thrown in a communal box for all equipment, but sometimes they’re not — find out before school starts. If not, label all their personal supplies so they don’t get mixed up with everyone else’s.
In fact, label everything! Hats, jumpers, bags, shoes, socks … seriously everything!! You never know when something will mysteriously go missing. Don’t assume you need to buy iron-on labels and stickers — most of the time a good laundry marker will do the trick.
And think ahead too! If you have younger children, think ahead to what items you might pass down and label them appropriately (maybe surname only). Also consider which items your child might still be using next year (art smocks, scissors etc) and label them appropriately (ie. maybe don’t put their class name on them).
7. And on that topic, try to limit missing items
Teach your child to put their things away after using them. “Wear your hat, then put it in your BAG.” It can be hard to drill into them, but this will hopefully limit the number of lost items during the year. It helps to have these kinds of rules at home too, so when they’re done using something, it goes back away from where they got it.
8. Keep extra-curricular activities to a minimum
Extra-curricular activities are always good for socialising and learning new skills away from the school desk, but starting too many at once can be overwhelming for a newbie. Start the extra-curricular activities in term two, and limit the number to begin with, that way they are settled into their school routine before taking on even more activities.
9. Remember that issues can be resolved
Any issue that comes up during school can be sorted, and usually pretty easily, so don’t freak out if something happens. Problems are bound to occur when everyone is still settling into their new routines. Talk to your child every day so you know if something’s up.
10. Keep your cool
If your child complains about some terrible thing that has happened to them at school, try not to overreact straight away. Little kids have big imaginations, so they could be exaggerating or misremembering the events that happened. It is important to take your child’s feelings seriously, and believe them if they say something happened — just talk to the teacher before storming the school, guns blazing.
You and your child’s first day at school doesn’t have to be scary, so remember to keep calm, and make sure you have a circle of support for those times when it all seems too much. A lot of other parents are going through this too, so share in the experience!
There is a whole load of information about going to school in our Back to School Hub — check it out!