Our daughter is starting school this year. In Victoria (Australia) their first year of school is referred to as their preparatory year or prep for short. We have taken care of all the basic infrastructure type of activities as outlined in the Back To School Checklist and it is just over a week when Possum will head have her first day of school.
The best advice that I have seen with regard to preparing children for their first day of school is from Kathy Walker:
School preparation does not require a major effort and in fact the simpler and more relaxed the whole process is, the easier and more relaxed it will be for your child.
So avoid doing the big count down from 100 sleeps to school starts!!
You’ll all be over it by then.
Preparation for transition and starting school happens more through the incidental and the everyday experiences that we give children practise in, rather than commencing a rigid set of strategies that actually detract from where they are currently.
In the year before a child is due to start school, providing additional opportunities for children to practice some “independent and self help skills” is a useful and reasonably easy process to introduce at home.
Possum by her own nature is very independent and almost always prefers to do something for herself than have mum or dad do it, if she has the skills. Possum does however like to know in advance what is happening and what is expected of her. This gives her the greatest level of comfort and therefore she is able to participate with the most confidence.
I see this as the most important task for me in preparing Possum for her first day of school.
Tips for getting ready for the first day of school
- In the week leading up to the start of school, take the calendar down and show her when the first day of school is. Her brothers will actually start school on Thursday. The preps however are divided into two for the first two days, to allow for a smaller group integration. Possum’s first day will be actually be Friday, so it is important that she understands this difference to avoid disappointment.
- The first two weeks for Possum are half days, with the preps finishing before lunch. Again I will need to explain to Possum that she will be finishing earlier than her brothers and that this is to help the prep children not become too tired.
- Ensure Possum can manage her uniform. The hat has a pull string, her shoes have buckles, both of which are a rigid as a result of newness. I will get her to practice with these so that she can easily manage them at school by herself.
- Possum only stopped having a couple of day sleeps a week in December. When tired she can become easily overwhelmed. I will need to make sure that in the last week before school, major activities are kept to a minimum and that she is in bed early each night.
- Keep calm and low key as the first day approaches. Minimum fuss. Possum is used to the daily walk to school, as she has been going with her brothers for a number of years now. The more “normal” we can make the day for her, the easier it will be for her.
- On the morning of the first day, make sure that she doesn’t see me cry. I will (this post was obviously written in advance!) have just had our fifth child, so there will be a fair chance that my hormones will be everywhere and if I make a scene it is very likely that I will unsettle her!
If you have a child starting school this year, I hope you have a smooth and happy start to the school year. Fingers crossed we will too!