Once you have chosen your child’s school, you may want to take your child for a pre-visit. This will enable them to meet their teachers and become orientated within the school. The school will usually arrange visit days where all of the children who will be starting during the next term will meet one another.
Take advantage of this when possible, as this will reassure your child that they are not the only ones who are going to experience this situation.
How can you help your child at school?
Your child will feel much more confident about starting school if they feel they can take care of themselves. Find school shoes with Velcro fasteners if your child can not tie their shoe laces. They should also be able to:-
- Wash their hands and face
- Share with others
- Go to the toilet unsupervised
- Manage lunch on their own
- Listen and follow simple instructions.
Leaving your child
Your child may settle into school immediately, or they may cry and resist the separation from you. If your child does cry when you leave them, it is often an act of love and devotion to you, rather than fear of going to school. Children left with other relatives or at pre-school groups know that they will survive without their parents, thus will feel more confident about the separation.
If your child finds the separation difficult, the best way to deal with it is to hand your child over to their teacher kindly, firmly and quickly. Children gather confidence from you, so the more confident you can be about the situation the better. If you find this too hard to cope with, then let another parent or friend take your child to school for a short time.
What if my child does not settle ?
Some children settle at school, however, others find this very difficult. Here are some warning signs to look for:
- Babyish behaviour
- Aggressive behaviour whilst at school
- Whiny behaviour
- Tummy ache in the morning
- Physical or vocal ticks
- Personality change
Many children show one or two of these signs when they have just started school. They are simply demonstrating a level of anxiety as the experience a new situation, however if these signs are occurring week after week, then you need to talk and listen to your child. Often talking through their worries can help them a great deal. Once this has been done, speak to their teacher about the problems, finding out their views as they look after your child’s welfare during the school day.
As you talk through the situation, you may find an obvious course to follow, a friend has left or they get lost whilst at school. You may also consider that your child is being bullied (see Bullying).
If you are struggling to find the cause of your child’s unhappiness, then they are possibly feeling under pressure to fulfil expectations, or there is not enough time to play during the day. Other possibilities could be if your child is participating in after school activities. They may be finding this too much for them to cope with, as the child is learning and dealing with new situations. Reducing the amount of after school activities may help your child to focus during the day, and not become too exhausted. This may be the cause of the predicament.