Your Child's First Day of School
Is your Child Starting School?
The First Day of School
This is a huge event in a child's life. They go from being your toddler at your side, to stepping out into the big world for the better part of the day without you. Of course, kindergarten help to prepare them for this, but there they find little pressure, compared to the school schedule of targets, achievements and competition. At school, quite a bit is expected of them and a whole new world opens as they learn to read, write and do maths. Gradually they can read signs or notes for themselves and can occupy themselves better, making them that much more independent from their parents.
Maybe you remember that first day at school, trying to be brave as your parents walked away and left you in the care of someone you hardly knew. It might have been an exciting time and maybe a little daunting too. Little things might have worried you, like where would you hang your coat, would you be able to manage getting changed for P.E. and would you know where to go for lunch. You might have felt alone and not sure who your friends were and bewildered at the scale of the large school building and the many people rushing around within it. After a few hours it might have felt like you should have been going home, yet the day goes on and on. You hang in there, trying to be patient and strong, until eventually you see your parent at the school gate and you run into their arms, relieved that they hadn't forgotten you and you could go home at last.
Here are some tips to remind you of the things to watch out for so that you are prepared and those first few days start off on the right foot, setting you on course for a positive school life ahead for you and your child.
My Experience Of Starting School
Can you remember your first day of school?
I remember feeling distressed at break time when I wasn't allowed to go to my older sister who was in the other playground and then how upset I was at the confusion with my dinner money. Apart from these two events, I don't really remember my first days at school.
This has helped me to see the importance of providing good memories of school, so that education becomes a positive experience in a child's life throughout the years, even helping them to want to go on to university. Learning is an ever-important factor in moving on and progressing in life, throughout the adult years too, but this can be damaged if a child is left with unresolved problems with school early on.
Was your first day of school a good or bad memory for you?
Nurture Good Communication With Child And Teacher
Talk positively about starting school
Make regular time to talk with your child, giving them eye contact without distractions. It doesn't have to take up more time in your day, make use of family meal times around the table or when you put them to bed. Or give them a treat every now and then and take them out for a drink where you can chat. Talk positively about school, without voicing your own fears and worries, so that they can look forward to it.
Take time to listen to your child with the small stuff now so they will tell you the big stuff later.
Why Is Good Communication Important?
- You will be able to understand what your child is experiencing whilst they are away from you
- Your child will get used to speaking to adults, so that they can do so with their teachers when they need to.
Don't pressurise them into giving long explanations about things they may find hard to put into words, especially when they are tired at the end of the day. Wait until you are both relaxed.
As soon as they start school, make good use of every parent evening to keep up good communication with their teachers. It really helps teachers knowing that you take an interest in your child's education and are working with them and doing the best for the child. Get them on your side and they are more likely to make an effort in understanding your child and communicating with you as soon as they sense a problem, so that it can be nipped in the bud before doing any lasting damage. By working together with teachers you can agree to tackle any of your child's problems by complimenting whatever the other is doing.
The Value Of Mental Focus
Teach Your Child The Value Of Sitting Still For Short Periods Of Time
Children who master this have a far greater chance of progressing with their education. Sitting still doesn't include in front of the TV, but doing a task that requires them to actively think and focus. A young child should only be required to do this for short periods of time. Reward them with something physical afterwards, such as playing in the garden or going to the park. If they find this particularly hard, it will help if the requirement in sitting still involves you playing a game with them, so that you can guide them through keeping focussed. For older children, chess is a great game to build up their concentration and stamina.
Proper diet plays a huge role in their ability to concentrate
Help your child by teaching them to eat healthy food- yes- this is something they need to learn as well! If they have a good appetite for healthy food, school dinners will also be more enjoyable.
Make A Plan With Your Child
It's not just about school work!
Make sure that they know what their daily routine is going to be. Sit down and plan it together, so that they can voice their ideas and concerns. Give them plenty of warning, remembering that they might be quite tired to begin with as they get used to their new schedule. Now is the time to ensure that they get plenty of sleep. If you are stressed, they will pick this up too and fear of not being able to keep up will wear you out. Use a daily plan that helps you think ahead to provide plenty of rest, healthy eating, fresh air and exercise as well as work. For more tips on this, see below:
It's Time To Buy A Kids Clock - To Teach Them The Time
This could be a great time to teach your child to tell the time so that they know when they need to do certain tasks in their day. Buy them a clock, and a child's watch could be a reward for learning the time. Make a clock together using a round paper plate where they can turn the hands to the time they are aiming for and look at the real clock to compare when the time is up.
Make Goals With Star Charts
Take the pressure off and make it fun!
Your child will have been thrown into a world of meeting targets and performing, whether in relation to school work and keeping up with curriculums or getting up in the morning and getting himself ready on time. He might not understand why it is so important, but with the aid of a star chart, he will be able to focus better and remember what needs to be done each day. A small reward at the end of a week or so will make him feel good about it all and give him something to look forward to.
Create A Learning Environment In The Home
Lead by example
Children learn best by example. You can inspire your child and lead the way if you yourself value learning. Does your child regularly see you reading a book or studying something of interest? Do you show enthusiasm in being creative (cooking, art, crafts, gardening etc.) rather than everything just being a chore? If you want your child to apply himself at school, you can best help him by showing how you do this at home and doing things together. He will find it more natural to do the same.
A hard question- but does your child do this?
Your child will find school very difficult if they have not first learned to respect others, both teachers and other pupils. This is not something that should wait for the teacher to sort out, but needs to be learned in the home where the child already feels loved and accepted. If the child doesn't have to struggle with getting on with other people, they will be able to concentrate on what they are there for- to learn and will have a much happier time doing so, making new friends easily. Easier said than done?
A Child's Response To A Science Question
When you breathe, you inspire. When you do not breathe, you expire."
Starting School With A Special School Cone (Tute) - In German Style!
In Germany, every child will be given a large, colourful cone which they have often made at Kindergarten before they leave. The night before the big day, their parents will fill the cone with small items of school equipment as well as a few treats. They will then be taken with them on their first morning at their new school, where they open them together, amid much excitement.
© 2012 Christine Hulme