Soon my son will be going to school and I am swinging like a pendulum, to and fro, from being nervous to feeling excited for the both of us. I couldn’t be happier though, because my baby boy is going to be out in the world and shape his early years from this experience. And as I reflect back on when Raniya was about to go to school, I felt the same mix of emotions back then, thinking I’d be prepared when it’d be time for Zakriya, but I guess we’re back to that ominous moment of pause. But if it’s your eldest one starting their first day of school, trust me; it’s not going to be easy on either one of you. A word of advice? Good organization and planning will help some of the way, along with being fully aware for signs of your child’s unease and aiming to relieve any potential for distress.
Starting school can be a difficult time for both the parent and child, because they’re going to meet people whom they’ve never seen before, encounter situations that they’ve never been in, and end up being taken care of by complete strangers. So, based on my personal experience, here are, what I think, the fundamentals to preparing your child for their first day of school (because you’re going to need this)
- Prepare them emotionally because your child is going to be anxious about this new change in their life and find themselves in a completely new environment, and the worst of all, YOUR ABSENCE
- Visit their school in advance, best if it is with your child to familiarize yourselves with the location, layout and surroundings, and discuss things about the classroom, play and lunch area. The key is to explore
- Talk to your child about school in a positive light and encourage playtime at home with playtime rules
- Read to your child, alphabets, songs and sing with them at home
- Shop for the necessary school essentials with your child because that’s the fun part of starting school as this will allow your child to hand pick their favorite things to take to school as well as anticipate using them
- Get into the routine with your child a month before they start school, like sleeping habits to organize your daily pattern of making the transition easier for them
- Constant reassurance that everything is going to be alright, and this should normally be a part of the quality time you spend with your child and tell them about learning, and the new friends that they’ll make
- Anticipate separation anxiety. If you think your child would be unable to be away from you, start practicing it by leaving them with their grandparents for an hour, or arrange play dates with other children they can learn to be away from you.
- Don’t stop celebrating the milestones that your child will achieve everyday in their lives, and continue to do so after they start school to boost their self-confidence