It is back to school time after the summer vacation break in the Northern Hemisphere. In some countries like New Zealand and Australia, children begin school the day they turn 5 years old and that, of course, can be any time of the year.
Our 5 year-old grandson is starting in a new school next week and it will mean finding new friends and having a new teacher. How can we prepare our little ones for such a new experience in their lives?Here are some suggestions.
PREPARE1. Prepare yourself.
a) Think through the scenario of not having little Stefan or Susie at home during any week days.
b) Decide on some things to look forward to because you have more free time. It could be work,
rest, recreational activity, study, a hobby or volunteer work just to name a few ideas.
2. Prepare your child for a new school.
a) Take him/her shopping for school supplies, a uniform or new clothing.
b) Explain that he will be in a new class with (probably) all new kids.
c) Create a structured home routine if you haven't already. That should include early nights, wind
down time for after school and time for you to help with school homework and assignments.
d) If your child will be catching the school bus, then take them to the bus stop some days before
they start so they can see other kids getting on and off (if it is part way through a semester).
Assure them that you will be there to pick them up. If it's the beginning of the school year
you will have to show them how to board the bus. Hopefully they may know at least one
older child at that stop who can look out for them.
e) If you are driving them to school don't hold up the traffic by feeling that you have to see them
enter the school's front door before driving off. There are always staff members out there to
ensure that happens and other moms and dads who are eagerly waiting to drop their children off
might get somewhat agitated!
f) Ensure they are fully potty trained, that they can tie their own shoe laces and that they
fully know to use their manners.
3. Prepare other siblings.
a) Talk to younger brothers or sisters about their older sibling going to school. They will no doubt
wonder where their playmate is. They may not realize until school starts where big brother/
sister has gone, but be aware that the younger child/children may feel lonely missing the older
b) Make sure these preschool children have fun activities to do to take their minds off missing their
LINK WITH THE SCHOOLa) Talk with their teacher and let him/her know of any special needs or concerns you have
about your child.
b) Ask the teacher if they support parent contact by email and use this to keep up with the
play. Remember, too, that the teacher will more than likely have more than 20 other
parents to communicate with and teachers don't need to be overloaded with emails.
c) Learn from the teacher what her/his expectations are of your child AND of you.
d) As time goes by ask the teacher what your child's strengths are and where they most
e) Be prepared to be as involved with the school as time will allow you.
I know, as parents, we feel our child is too young to be out of our influence and protection,
so there is a tendency to coddle or baby them. This is the period of time to let go a little and
help them mature. They now have definitely left the baby stage.
Written by Sally and Brian Burgess, Forefront Families