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Getting the family school-ready

Posted on 18 September 2018

Whether they’ve started a new school, moved up to primary or secondary school, or even just moved up a year, this time often brings about a mixture of excitement and nerves for both children and parents. The fear of the unknown can be daunting but there are plenty of ways you can prepare both yourself and your children for the rest of the school year.

Learn the school calendar

No matter what age your child is, it’s very useful to get hold of the school calendar as soon as possible and enter the key terms dates into your diary. You can then make note of all of the important fundraisers, INSET days, school productions, etc. If your child is starting secondary school, a study planner is useful to help mark out key items that need to go in on each day of the week – such as PE kit.

Get the children involved

Sharing some helpful tips with your children is a nice way to subtly incorporate new routines without over-stressing. Making a trip to rehearse the journey, trying on the new uniform and creating a quiet space at home for reading and homework are all ways that your children can be involved in their prep.

Don’t forget to talk about your own first day of school - especially with your primary aged children. They’ll love hearing the stories about you and you can incorporate some useful messages at the same time. Things like tying laces and getting dressed on their own are life skills that make for a smooth start!

Build your network

Finding a friend who will be in the same class, or chatting to another parent at the school is a great way to establish a bit more certainty to a new routine. Did you happen to grab the contact details of anyone during the school transition day? The school may have a Facebook page or Twitter feed for the parent-teacher organisation which would be a useful place to find out any useful news before the start of term.

Engage with the school at the earliest point that you have a question or concern. You won’t be the first one to ask and it helps the school learn what types of queries parents have. This goes for all years – as the routine and expectation on children changes through each school stage.

The practical stuff

Packing a lunch? Teach your child to put the bits that can go in the lunchbox the night before. Most school age children can do this job and it teaches them early responsibility too. The practical elements are as easy to address as creating a list and working through it.

Experiences in the first few weeks

Some children will happily sit down after their school day and tell you everything they’ve been up to, however some children don’t share as much. Try not to have too many expectations on these first few weeks.

Communication can be made easier with a snack and a cuddle on the sofa. For older children, maybe take them to a café and ask questions like, “So what’s the best part of the day” instead of “How was it?”. Setting realistic expectations is healthy for everyone. By being patient and understanding, staying positive and being a good listener, your child will have a successful start to the school year.