How to Help Your Child Settle into a New School Environment
Starting school in a new environment can be daunting for both you and your child. Here are some tips that can help you make a smooth transition into a new school.
Before School Starts
Make sure you take advantage of looking around the centre with your child and a teacher before school starts. To ensure your child does not feel overwhelmed during the visit, try to keep the number of people and new faces to a minimum.
Be prepared for the first day of school by collecting what is needed well ahead of time. This may include purchasing a hat, uniform, backpack, drink bottle or lunchbox. Gathering these items can be very exciting and a fun activity to do with your child. Do the selecting of items together and use the language of getting ready for ‘big school’ or ‘preschool’ to encourage excitement. To help your child form a connection of ownership and responsibility with their school items, add their name to each item.
Be positive around your child about how starting school is going to be great, for example, “I think you are going to really enjoy it”. But do not repeat yourself too much as they will quickly doubt you if it sounds like you are selling it too hard.
Take the time to talk with your child about what will happen in the day. If you are unsure, ask for a daily program guide from your centre. This way you can answer any questions that your child may ask.
Examples of what to say to help your child become excited for their first day include:
“During the day you can have a play inside with blocks and puzzles and then there is a big playground outside with people who you can play with.”
“You do all sorts of cool activities. There is a Library to visit and an art room for painting. I even saw a place where they have some stick insects to watch. Maybe you will get to hold one like we saw when we visited.”
Their First Day of School
Be well planned for the first day and do not make this day a rush. Establish a routine from when you wake up, so the start of the day is smooth and naturally transitions to the point where you walk into the centre doors. Make sure everything is ready to go by packing the bag the night before and laying out your child’s clothes, shoes and socks.
They will be fine if you are fine. Be positive and although you might feel like hanging on tight and staying all day to watch and soak up the first day experience, remember they need to settle and so do you. Walking into the classroom to help unpack or organise items needed is ok, but then say goodbye. Make the routine reliable for goodbye and for pick up.
When it comes to ‘pick up’ do not be late, they rely on you being there when you said you would be, and they feel safe with supported promises.