Whether it’s your child’s first ever day of school, or they are returning for the new school year, the first day is a big deal. Starting at a new school is always going to be tough at the beginning. Some children find that even going back to the same school in September takes adjustment after the long summer holiday.
Children may experience feelings of nervousness and anxiety at the thought of going back to school. They may be worried about making new friends, having new teachers and learning new materials. Young children may also be worried about spending the whole day away from their parents. It is only natural to worry about change and new experiences, when we don’t know exactly how things will pan out.
As a parent you may be inadvertently contributing to your child’s stress about the first day of school. It’s really important to build an enthusiastic attitude towards school, and to pass this on to your child. You can help your child be ready for school in both practical and emotional ways.
There is plenty that you can do to prepare your child for their first day of school. Making sure that everything is well-organised will stop everyone worrying about it so much.
Having all the school essentials prepared will help your child to feel better about starting school. Involving your child in the process of choosing and buying the kit will make going back to school much more fun.
There are also other things you can do to ease the transition from summer holidays to school term time, which we explore further in the tips below.
If you explain to your child what they can expect on the first day of school, this will make it much easier for them. Having this information will mean they are less likely to feel out of their depth or confused at what is happening.
On the first day of the school year, they will meet their classmates and class teacher. The teacher will tell them his or her name and will probably ask the class to say their names. They might feel scared to speak up, but that’s ok. They will have to sit on chairs in the classroom, and raise their hand if they want to say something. They can make friends with the children sitting nearby. The classroom might have colourful pictures on the walls.
During the first day they will begin to learn about the school routine, made up of lessons with breaks in between. They will probably have a morning break time, perhaps with a snack, then more lessons before lunch. Some schools begin with a half day, while others go straight for a full day, with more lessons after lunch. Explain that you will collect them after school and where you will meet them. Make sure you aren’t late to pick them up on the first day!
The children should expect to follow the others for the first day, and to do what the teacher asks. The lessons on the first day will probably be fun and may including reading together and drawing. If you have practised these activities with your child, it will be easy for them to fit in at school.
Remember that your child will be very tired after their first full day at school. Prepare some snacks for after school and some gentle activities that you can do together after you get home. Encourage them to talk about their school day with you, but don’t push them if they decide not to talk about it. Focus on enjoying your time together, and of course make sure they get an early night ready for day two of school.