Preparing your child for their first day of school
- Speak positively about going to school. Tell your child about your experiences; and what they are going to learn.
- Go for walks or drives past the school and point out excitedly; "There's your school!".
- If your child has already been to childcare or pre-school, try to find out which children from there are going to your child's new school. Organise play times with these children so they will know some familiar faces.
- Take your child to the park, so she can learn to mix and interact with others. Grab every opportunity to be social, in a safe environment.
- Make sure your child is able to 'self-help'. This means being kindergarten ready and able to take care of themself by going to the toilet (and hand-washing) alone; taking their own jumper off is they are too hot; and putting their own shoes on and off (Velcro makes this much easier for children rather than trying to tie laces).
- Play 'turn-taking' games to reinforce waiting and sharing.
- Encourage your child to try and try again with anything they find difficult. Even if the outcome is not a success just say: "That was great trying! You really gave it a go".
Helping your child overcome common school issues
Try some role-plays to help them think of ideas. For example, ask the question: "How do you think you make a friend?". They'll probably say something like: "Sit and talk, or ask their name".
Find out what the teacher expects from your child in terms of homework. There must be a strong partnership between the school and parents regarding everyone's expectations - such as how much should parents 'help'? So if you're unsure of exactly what your role needs to be, ask the teacher. Families can ask for specialised help if they need assistance due to language barriers etc.
It's so important for children to understand that it's OK to talk about what's happening at school. So if issues arise, children need to feel comfortable sharing with parents or other important adults in their lives.Try open-ended questions such as: "So what did you like about school today? And what didn't you like?" on a regular basis. Sometimes the most relaxed conversations occur over dinner or in the bath. Give your child strategies on how to deal with bullying, and again you can do this by role-plays. If you're worried about anything you think is going on, speak with the teacher or Principal straight away. Every school has a policy on bullying; and welcome any feedback. This is again why it's so important to have a great partnership between parents and schools.
If you're worried about your child - either academically or socially - make an appointment to have a conversation with their class teacher for their perspective. For instance you might hear from your child that "nobody plays with me at lunchtime". But if you talk with the teacher, you might learn that your child's group of friends went off to play a game, and your child chose not to be involved.Schools send out reports yearly and half yearly, and if you have any concerns, see the teacher. And in-between those times communication remains critical.