Starting school for the first time is a major milestone for children and parents. Here, leading family relationship expert, Dr Karen Phillip, shares her tips on all the back to school basics:
Have a few trial lunch days: Pack your child a lunch box at home and ensure they eat little lunch first then big lunch; this is particularly important if all food is in one lunch box. And ensure they can unwrap their lunch.
Shop together for school items: Check the school equipment list and make the shopping list together to help make it fun and exciting. Shop ahead to avoid last minute rushing and unnecessary stress. Ensure they are comfortable in their new uniform look, and have them choose their lunch box and drink bottle or backpack. This allows them to have ownership of the school experience.
Routine: Children need to be aware of the timeframe of preparing for school each morning. Set clear expectations and consequences so they understand. Remember, children have no concept of time under about 7 years old so telling them you have half an hour to get ready will mean nothing to them.
Plan: Use a calendar or planner to show your child what is happening each day. This will help reduce any anxiety or confusion and get them ready for the day/week ahead.
Simple separation: Standing at the gate crying will only tell your child that school is scary and bad while hugging your child emotionally and telling them how much you will miss them could make them sad and anxious. First day, meet the teacher, show your child around, smile and go.
Orientation: Take your child to the school and show them around. Many children are scared they do not know where their classroom is or where the toilets are. Show them the class area and toilets.
Label everything: Labelling all items – clothing, bags, lunch box and drink bottle – will prevent your child losing or picking up a similar item belonging to someone else. It also assists the teacher to sort out correct belongings. Place their first name and first letter of surname at least.