Starting primary school can be a daunting time for even the most confident of children. Not only does it involve losing the constant contact they’ve enjoyed with their parents or guardians since being born, it thrusts them into a wholly unrecognisable environment. To make the process as smooth and rewarding as it should be for your child, there are a few tips you can follow during the first few days at school.
Develop a Routine
Children often benefit from having a daily routine, so start as you mean to go on from day one. Decide on a ‘getting up’ time – signalled by an alarm. You may want to pack a school bag the night before, but involve your child in this process as much as possible from the outset. Select a route to school that works for you both, and stick to it. Most importantly, however, make sure your child has breakfast with you and other members of your family, and use the opportunity to talk about the day ahead.
Encourage Your Child to Make New Friends
While few children will welcome direct interference from their parents when it comes to making friends, there’s nothing stopping you from encouraging your child to be sociable at school. Take the time every evening to talk to your child about their friends and who they’ve spent time with that day. Ask whom your child is spending time with, and what they’re doing together. It is also a good idea to encourage play time outside of school hours, so speak to other parents about play dates at the weekend.
Accept That Your Child’s Mood May Swing
Leaving a parent’s supervision for the first time can be a traumatic experience for a child and the added stress they’re put under could lead to some sudden and marked shifts in mood. In many cases, this is a result of having to be on their best behaviour at school for several hours. When they get home to you, all they want to do is expend the energy that has built up over the day. Set aside a little one-on-one time with your child, and use it to talk about their day at school. It is also a good idea to allow them some quiet play time in their own surroundings, as being at school requires a degree of sharing and compromise – things they may not be used to.
Look for Warning Signs
Every child reacts to the first days of school differently, but temper tantrums, crying and varying states of distress are common. However, after the first two or three weeks, the new routine should settle in, and your child should become accustomed to the daily ritual of getting up and going to school. But if problems with your child’s behaviour persist, or making friends at school is proving to be a problem, it may be worth discussing the issues with your child’s teachers. Most schools now offer pastoral care, which could help your child to settle in more quickly.
The vast majority of children will start to embrace the school environment after the first two to three weeks. If your child is taking a little longer to settle in, be as supportive as possible, stick to a routine and talk to your child about their concerns and fears. Remember, schools and teachers deal with the first few days of school every year, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice and support if you think you and your child need it.
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CET Primary School Tower Hamlets supports high academic attainment and follows the International Primary Curriculum. CETPS Tower Hamlet is free to all primary aged children and believes that all pupils have the potential to succeed.