Starting school can be an exciting and nerve-racking time for both mother and child. Some kids are counting down the days and hours, while others are filled with fears and worry.
I get it. My son is a stage 5 clinger and looks for me when I leave the room for five seconds. Even as a former primary school teacher, the thought of his first day of school (which is kindy for him this year) is enough to have me rocking in the corner.
I have committed to a few things during January to have him ready and excited on his first day away from me. When we get there it could be tears and tantrums (from us both) but I will endeavour to support him until he loves it.
HOW TO PREPARE A CHILD WHO DOESN’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL
DROP LABELS AND EMOTIONALLY CHARGED WORDS
Children tend to embody the words we use about them so it is vital that we aim to use as many empowering words as possible. While they may be ‘shy’ or ‘scared’ swap these words to help them find their excitement a little faster. ‘Quiet’ is a good word to swap for ‘shy’.
MAKE STARTING SCHOOL FUN
Talk about all of the FUN they will have while at school. Get visibly excited when you discuss playing on the playground or in the home corner with all their new friends.
LISTEN AND ACKNOWLEDGE
It is important to listen and acknowledge the aspects that are making them nervous or unsure. Validate their feelings and use the ‘feel felt found’ method. Saying things like:
“I can see how you are feeling a little nervous about meeting new friends. I felt the same way when I started school. What I found was that everyone was really nice and my teachers helped me settle in.”
Spend time brainstorming ways they can find their confidence and even how they can support other new friends feeling the same way.
Begin a bedtime routine now to help your child practice mindfulness and be well rested when school starts. Include story time and guided meditations. You Tube as a massive range of Children’s meditation as does iTunes.
Here is my children’s bedtime playlist.
Further reading: Kid’s bedtime: Here’s how to keep it calm and controlled.
Introduce conversation starter cards or Affirmation cards. These are great to give your child a word or simple statement to focus on for their day. Encourage them to remember their word and say it to themselves through the day, especially if they have moments they are feeling a little upset or unsure.
PLAYDATES BEFORE STARTING SCHOOL
If you know a child or two who is starting in the same class or year, arrange a quiet play date to give them a chance to make a friend for their first day.
Find some space to allow your child to express and work through their feelings using their favourite play based activity. This may be drawing how they will feel at the end of their first day when you greet them with a hello hug. Or for those Lego-loving kids have them build the school playground or something for you to have to remind you of them while they are at school having fun.
HOW TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR YOUR CHILD’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
MAKE TIME FOR YOU
In the lead up and during those first weeks (well forever actually) MAKE time for you. Yes, you have heard it everywhere and always, but I am saying it again. You must make yourself and self-care the top of your list.
It doesn’t have to cost anything or be overly time consuming. This could be five minutes to enjoy the silence at night. Or rising 15-minutes before the children to do a quick workout.
TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS
Chances are your girlfriends with kids have been through this before or are going through it too. This chat doesn’t just have to be for ideas but can be simply about having a good old vent and offload.
Let it out girl!!
THIS IS WHAT TO DO WHEN SCHOOL STARTS
BE PREPARED FOR STARTING SCHOOL
On their first day of school be as prepared as possible the night before, including an early bedtime.
Greet them with excitement. It is so important that your emotions and acts show them you are excited for their experience.
Have a great breakfast together, pick their favourite healthy (ish) meal. While scrambled eggs or oats and fruit is probably what we should put on the table, if pancakes and strawberries are their favourite it is ok to run with that on Day One. Even if you have a shocking sleep do your best to be upbeat and excited for them.
MAKE TIME TO PLAY
Give yourself as much time as possible on that first day (even first week) to be present in the classroom as they settle. That said the teachers will be amazing and have done this many times before so trust they will have it if you need to unlatch your child from you waist (tears and all).
Celebrate them making it through their first day and even week. Plan something as a treat to do together after their first day. A trip to the park, cake and milkshakes, or snuggles and a movie at home.
YOU’VE GOT THIS
Mumma remember, you’ve got this. You are fierce and you are raising fierce and confident little loves.