5 Steps To Surviving Your Kid's First Month Of Primary School
STORY: Priyanka Elhence
06 January 2021
School has started, marking a brand new chapter in your life and your child’s. While you and your child might feel frustrated during the transition, don't worry. Kids have been going to school for generations. Keep your expectations low and understand that it’s not going to be perfect. At all.
Here are our 5 tips to get you through the first big month unscathed:
1. Set a practical routine
Children are creatures of habit, so communicate with your child what they can expect their new daily routine to be like. Talk about drop-off times, school schedule, extra-curricular activities and pick-up times. If possible, do a test run going to school, familiarising the child with basic things such as where their class will be, where the canteen and toilets are, etc.
2. Expect (a lot) of separation anxiety
So you’ve established the routine and made sure your child knows who is dropping them off and picking them up…but don’t expect them to understand that. Every child pretty much starts off school convinced that they will be abandoned at school forever. Expect tears, but don’t feel guilty for walking away. It doesn’t make you a bad parent; it’s just an unfortunate form of tough love. However, talk to the teacher if the crying pattern persists past week one.
3. Help them relate
Keeping the experience real makes adjusting to this new phase of life much easier. And there’s no better way than showing children through picture books. Some great bedtime reads suggested by teachers to do just that include Charlie and Lola: I Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child, Topsy & Tim Start School by Jean Adamson, and Starting School by Allan Ahlberg. Better yet, finish with a funny story about how you behaved when you started school yourself many, many decades ago. Seeing how you survived school so many years ago may just give your child that confidence boost he needs.
4. Respect their feelings
Just cos they’re small doesn’t mean they don’t have opinions and feelings. Understand that each child reacts differently to school and that they may not be feeling as excited about this new phase as you are. Take the time to ask them about their worries and really listen. Gently weave in the many positive aspects of school, such as ‘it’ll be fun, it’s a sign of growing up, you’ll make lots of new friends, and that everyone is nervous in the beginning’.
5. Create your own little support group
Try meeting and getting to know at least one ‘new’ parent who is in the same boat as you. You’ll have a lot in common over the next eight years, and it’ll be very valuable to have an understanding ally who’s going through the same process as you. Bonus if your kids end up being friends too.