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First Day of School

To overcome the fear of the first day at nursery, playgroup or school is a big step for your child. Talking to your child about it can help them prepare and alleviate some of their fears. They will naturally be anxious of the unknown so explain and describe where they will be going and for how long they will be there. Also create some excitement about the activities they will be involved with. Ask them what they are expecting school to be like and discuss any fears they are holding on to. Reassure that they will be collected by you or another carer at the end of the day. Do not dismiss any fears that seem silly to you. Listen and talk about whatever they might be worrying about.

Before school begins it would be a great help to your child to already have experience in some of the learning activities he is likely to be doing at school. Therefore plan ahead with learning at home long before school starts. This should reduce stress at school because they will be able to keep up or excel at their learning. Along with learning activities, role-plays, reading and games at home can all help to prepare your child for school, help them know what to expect and boost their confidence.

During the run up to the start of school, have fun with your child by choosing what they will need like bags, uniform or lunch boxes. You could visit the school with your child so they are familiar with where they will be going. Keep talking about school and the routine they will have at school. It is important that by the time your child starts school they need to be able to sit still, wait and listen. For boys this is often a harder skill to maintain because they are generally more physical. Your child needs to be toilet trained for school and have the ability to dress and undress for physical education.

When you are preparing your child for their first day at school tell them that the teacher will probably introduce themselves and tell the children about some of the things they will be doing through the year. Maybe the teacher will give the children a chance to tell the rest of the class their name and something about themselves. Tell your child to play close attention to the class rules that the teacher will discuss and if they do not understand something to put their hand up. Also tell your child that although they may already know some of the other children, it is a good chance on the first day to speak to the children they do not know and make new friends.

During the first weeks of school make sure you continue to communicate with your child about their day. There may be moments your child says they do not want to go back to school because the initial excitement has dwindled but the nerves are still there. Rather than ask them how their day was, ask specific questions for examples, what book they read, are there any naughty children in the class? Or who did you play with in break time? This is because young children sometimes find it difficult to answer a broad question. If you feel that something is wrong then always talk to their teacher.

Once a child settles down at school and begins to enjoy it, it says a great deal about how his parents have raised him to be confident, independent and resilient.

By Eirian Hallinan

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