Helping your child settle into school

Starting school

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.

This is a collaborative post. Author Profile:
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.



  1. July 29, 2014 / 1:31 pm

    This a great post, I’m sure I had a few tantrums on my first day many years ago! x

  2. July 29, 2014 / 1:52 pm

    great advice I was a family support worker and these things are so important in a childs first school x

  3. July 29, 2014 / 7:09 pm

    Some great advice here. Our eldest starts school in Sep and the thing we are worried about is the tiredness but I am sure it will all settle down 🙂

  4. bakedpotatomummy
    July 29, 2014 / 10:19 pm

    What a fab post! I’m having to face that I’m going to have to send Potato to pre-school earlier than I’d like and I’m worried about the effect it’ll have on both of us. I know he’s ready and will be fine, but this advice is really good. Even though you’ve written it for primary school, I’m sure it’s just as relevant to pre-school too xx

  5. August 26, 2014 / 4:05 pm

    I totally agree with getting straight on in there and getting your hands dirty straight away! Make an effort to be friendly to all the other parents/carers picking up as your child’s friendship groups will change and evolve throughout their time at school, never be afraid to speak to the teaching staff about any of your concerns – and if you can – offer to go in and help with reading or at PTA events. These are the things I’ve found out with the benefit of hindsight!!
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