It’s not long now until school is back! For some parents this can be a highly anxious time – especially if your little one is starting Prep. Getting back into the strict routine of preparing school lunches, knowing what uniform they need to wear on what day and not to mention, school drop off and pick up!!
Here are some tips to survive their first day:
1) Be organised. If you haven’t already labelled their school books, stationary, uniforms etc, start now! The night before the first day, have their uniform laid out, lunches prepped and all their school books and stationary, ready to go in their bag.
2) Prepare your kids. Talk with your children about how they are feeling – how its normal to feel nervous on the first day of school – whether its Prep, Year 3, 7 or 10! Focus on all the positive things school brings – learning, having fun, making friends. Reassure your Preppies that they will be at school for ‘this’ amount of time and that you will be there to pick them up.
3) Allow enough time. Add an extra 15 minutes to your time plan. Someone is bound to forget something, lose something or spill something. Also allowing for the extra busyness of school drop off on the first day – it pays to get to school early!
4) Take photos at home before your child leaves for school. Once they are in the classroom, the excitement and activity all around them, may take the priority away from posing for a photo.
5) Write a ‘love note’ for your child’s lunch box. A reassuring note like, “I love you and I cannot wait to hear all about your day. Make sure you listen to the teacher xoxo Love Mum and/or Dad”.
6) Plan activities for your day if you are not working. Nothing is worse than watching the clock!
7) Plan your School Routine. Think about: Do you want the kids to have a snack and some play time when they come home from school? When should they take off their uniform (so you can get it in the wash), where to put their school shoes and school bags etc.
8) Look after you. Parenting is not easy, and letting go of your babies…is like an emotional roller coaster! Book in for a massage, take yourself to a movie or sit and relax with a calming cup of tea.
9) Time off Work. Organise to arrive at work late on their first day or have the day off. This will help them to get settled and provide some much needed time for you.
10) Listen to your child. When you collect them at the end of their school day, be fully present – stop what you are doing, look at your child and listen, even lowering your body so your eyes meet at the same level whilst you are talking. This shows them that they have your full attention.
At dinner, go around the table and have everyone talk about ‘The best thing about my day was’ and ‘The low point of my day was…’ – sometimes you may be surprised that you have already listened to your child talk excitedly to you about their day on the way home in the car and everything was rosy and then at dinner, they may blurt out something that hurt their feelings in the playground and become emotional. Be ready to support them through their emotional journey.
At the end of the day, be gentle with yourself – allow time to adapt to the school routine (both you and your child). Parenting is sometimes very challenging, and the goal posts feel like they move all the time. Just listen, reassure and keep the lines of communication open and you will all marvel at the wonderful skills your little one accomplishes throughout their school life.