What to do in the weeks leading up to the first day.
How to prepare for the new school routine
Some things you can do to ensure your child has an understanding about routines at school
Travel to and from school several times as a practice run.
Practise the school day routine by having trial runs for the morning routine of getting up early, putting on your child’s uniform and packing their school bag. Setting up a regular bedtime routine will allow your child to wake up fresh and ready for the day.
Practise lunch time routines. Set up a pretend picnic in the backyard or park. Help your child practise getting their lunchbox out of their school bag and guide them to open it by themselves. You may also assist your child with identifying what to eat for playtime and lunchtime. Think of ways you can make it easier for your child to manage their food. This may include ensuring your child can open the packaging.
You can write a story with your child about their new school and what happens during the day. You can draw pictures or include photographs in the story and read it together. This may help to ease their anxiety about what happens during the day.
Visit the school if permitted and allow your child to practise using the climbing equipment and playing in the school grounds.
Play dates with other children who will be starting at the same school. A familiar face will help your child feel confident and more relaxed on their first day.
Plan ahead for changes
Consider what sorts of after school activities might be helpful for your child. For some children, minimising after school activities or waiting until your child is settled into school before introducing new activities is helpful. The school day can be quite long for your child and they may not have the energy to engage in other activities. They can begin after school activities once they have adjusted into the new routine.
Plan some relaxing time after school. Depending on your child’s interests, this may consist of quiet play or jumping on the trampoline. Follow your child’s lead on what works best for them.
Help your child to get a good night’s sleep. Having a regular routine such as taking a bath before bedtime or reading a book may help your child to relax
Help manage separation distress
What will help my child separate comfortably from me in the morning?
What has helped my child in the past?
Would my child benefit from taking a picture or special object from home?
What will I do to help myself cope? (eg catch up with a friend, exercise)
It will also help to:
Talk to your child’s early childhood educator and new school teacher – they can help to put some ideas in place to support your child to separate from you.
Develop a positive goodbye routine together (eg sharing a ‘high five’, special goodbye hug or a funny or loving gesture like a bear hug).
Always say goodbye and reassure your child of when you will collect them (eg that you will be back at home time to pick them up, or what the arrangements are for after school care). This helps build their trust and sense of security.
Avoid lengthy goodbyes as they may increase separation distress.
Talk positively and enthusiastically about what your child will be doing when they are away from you (eg “you will have a story”, “you’re going to have fun meeting new children”). Children will pick up on your cues if you are feeling nervous so try to be mindful of what you communicate about your own emotions.
Take care of your own emotions in managing the separation.