The day has arrived; your child is dressed, shoes are polished, and they’re ready to go. No traffic on the roads, bliss, and they have a massive smile on their face as they enter school for the first time. Unfortunately, as most parents know, the first day of school isn’t always that smooth sailing. There are often tears (as much from you as them), the occasional grumble, and there may even be the odd school shoe put on the wrong foot.
Your little one's first day of school can be a little hectic for you and your child, so whatever their first day may look like, you’ll want to ensure you're prepared for it all.
To make starting school a little less overwhelming, we created this post to help give you (the parents) some advice and tips on managing your child's first day back.
Before They Start
The first day of school can be a bit overwhelming, and emotions can run high as a result of stress and change, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Some tips to help manage everyone's emotions on the day include,
Talk To Your Child About The Day Ahead
Be careful not to go on and on about going to school, but make sure that any conversations surrounding the school are not only positive but calm so that they begin to associate going to school as the new norm and no big deal.
This is also an opportunity to remind your child about the fun things waiting for them at school, but also talk them through what to do if they aren’t sure about anything or have any worries.
Read Books About Starting School
Stories with characters your child can relate to, especially those with characters attending their first day of school, are useful for settling first-day jitters and providing a boost of confidence where needed.
We personally love this book by the amazing Beatrix Potter, where Peter Rabbit goes to school, take a look for yourself here.
Preparing The Night Before
Practice The School Run
Not only is this a great way to make sure you know your way to the school and how long it will take, but it also gives your child an opportunity to see their school and introduce them to the school-run routine.
Taking your child with you on a practice run can also help to start the conversation around starting school and what your child can expect so they, too, are prepared. The journey may even get them a bit excited about starting school!
Have Everything Ready The Night Before
This tip might be a given, but it will definitely be your saving grace on the morning of their first day.
Try to get everything from their lunch box to their uniform ready to minimise the tasks to do in the morning and help things run as smoothly as possible. You can also get your little ones to help you, which in turn will help them mentally prepare for their big day.
You can use our Back-to-School Checklist to ensure everything is prepared.
What Is Orientation?
Parent orientations are similar to parent-teacher meetings. But these are more detailed and focused on more than one aspect. They will often talk about the school, year-to-year goals, parent expectations, overall performance, staff, services, etc. They can be a great way for you as the parents to know what you can expect for your child in the upcoming year and will also help you to talk to and reassure your child before they start school, having received more information about what to expect.
What To Expect?
At parent orientation, you may have the opportunity to meet all of your kid’s teachers.
The teachers can show you the classroom where your little ones will spend the day. They’ll also offer you an idea of what your kid’s homework, assignments, and other activities will look like.
In some orientations, your child will also be able to look around the school and even participate in a few activities to help get them settled into school life as well as give them the chance to be introduced to their teachers.
Tip: Ask for a point of contact in case you have any further questions after the orientation day.
The First Day
If you’ve followed our other advice and you’ve got everything ready the night before. This should allow you to leave for school in plenty of time and will help to make the whole experience more enjoyable for you and your child, as you will be more relaxed, which will likely rub off on your child too.
What happens at drop-off
On the first day of school, kids will normally need to be there by 8:00. As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a few members of staff, including your child's teacher. You can use this as an opportunity to re-introduce yourself and your child to their teacher. If needed, you can also walk with your child to their classroom to help them put their things away.
However, it is important to set clear expectations from the get-go, so try to be clear with your child on what the school mornings will look like, including not always walking them to their classroom to promote their own independence.
Tip: It may be an idea to clear your whole morning on the first day just to allow for delays (or even tears) without the added stress of having to get to work or other commitments.
Keep Goodbyes Quick
It’s best to keep goodbyes as quick and drama-free as possible. Reminding them that you’ll pick them up and tell them to enjoy themselves is important. If your child becomes upset, remain calm and try to find their teacher, who will also be able to reassure your child, allowing you to slip away quietly.
Talk To Other Parents
Ensure you get to the school slightly earlier, so you can use this opportunity to talk to other parents. It is good to get reassurance from other parents who may also be worrying about their children.
While getting to know other parents, you can also organise playdates for your little ones to ensure they can make friends, making the school experience more enjoyable for them. You can also use this opportunity to find out about ways you can get involved in school and build relationships with other parents.
Praise, Praise & More Praise
When you see your little one appear from the classroom at the end of the day, ensure you’re positive and give them lots of praise just for completing their first day. This way, they will continue to associate school with positivity.
Talk About Their Day
Talking about all parts of their day is a great way to gauge how they feel about school, so encourage them to talk about their day, including what they enjoyed and didn’t. If there is anything they didn’t like or were unsure about, try to reassure them or help them to find a solution. You can even talk to their teacher the next day for some advice.
Now you can sit back and relax as you’ve got all the tips to help your little one’s first day of school run as smoothly as possible. Just remember to remain calm and be as positive as you can on the run-up to the day, and your child will feel the same.