There’s no denying that your child’s first days of school will be some of the most memorable for both you and your child. It’s normal for you to have some anxiety about how they’ll cope, but don’t underestimate how you’ll feel as a parent.
It sounds simple, but being prepared is vital to a smooth transition into the school routine. We’ve put together some great advice to help make the transition to school, whether it’s the induction to reception or the big move to senior school, a little bit easier.
Work out your lunch menu for the week. Will they have packed lunches or will they need money for hot school lunches? Remember, those in key stage one get free school meals, which can save you £10-£20 per week. However, lunches can be a major source of anxiety for parents, especially if your child is a fussy eater.
Most schools offer a great selection with a hot meal, a jacket potato and a baguette or cold choice. Take advantage of this, as most children will happily eat what’s put in front of them at school, far more than they will at home.
Don’t be afraid of your child trying something new. If the menu changes from what it’s been before ask if your child can have a taster plate so they can try a small amount of the new dish.
Dietary concerns can also cause anxiety, but most schools are now set up meet a range of nutritional needs including vegetarian, vegan, intolerances such as gluten or dairy and allergies, like nuts. If you’re concerned raise it with your child’s teacher or even ask reception if you can visit the kitchen and speak to the kitchen staff to ease your concerns.
Where, when and how
Children thrive on routine. They like knowing what they’re doing, when they’re doing it and how. For younger children the school run routine can be traumatic. There’s so much to do, take with them and then know when they get there, that they can feel overwhelmed which in turn can lead to major meltdowns. Fight these off at the pass by having a clear routine that you follow each morning.
Simple things like having a place where their shoes ‘live’, their water bottle on the side, their bag by the door and their lunch/tuck money already in the envelope all help to give children a sense of security. It also takes the hassle out of the ‘Mum/Dad I can’t find my shoes’ panic.
You can even create a tick chart with all the things they need before you leave the house, have this on a white board so you can clean the ticks off each morning post school run ready for the next day.
Reward charts are also a great way to motivate children into following the school routine. Let them choose their own water bottle, bag or lunch-bag; if they like what they’re taking to school they’re more likely to remember where it is.
As any parent will tell you, the school playground is the hub of the school. It’s where you find out how your child’s day has been, it’s where you can speak to your child’s teacher after school and it’s also where you’ll meet to meet other parents and make life-long friends.
It can also be a confusing place for children. Depending on their stage and your school’s process, you may have to wait at different parts of the playground with your child. In most schools, reception children will be walked right through to the classroom, but, even as soon as the first half-term, they may be expected to walk in on their own from the main gates.
Older children may just need to be left at the main gate. If you have an anxious child it’s a good idea to ask your child’s teacher where you need to drop them off. If they’re really worried pop down to the school before their first day and show them where they’ll go in and where you’ll pick them up.
It may sound silly, but choose your pick-up spot and stick to it. The regularity of always knowing where you’ll be when they walk out of school gives them a sense of stability.
We hope these small tips make the school run a little bit easier. And remember, practice makes perfect.