Over the last couple of years, and now being in the countdown period to the summer holidays and the new school year starting, I’ve noticed a lot of parents really worry about their children starting school (and nursery). This wasn’t something I felt overly concerned about last year. Yes, I worried that N would be behind everyone else, you worry whether he’ll cope ok with changing for PE and remembering to go to the toilet, but that was just general worry not a ‘OMG my child’s starting school/growing up’ etc worry that a lot of parents (mums in particular) seem to go through.
Because N had been in nearly full time childcare since 12 months old, day nursery and nursery school, it did mean the transition to school was easier for both him and me. But even him starting day nursery wasn’t a panic. We had a gentle settling in – 2 sessions although he was fine after 1, and lots of communication so I knew how he was doing. Obviously with school you don’t get the same level of communication and it’s hard to just grab 5 minutes to ask questions when there’s 20-30 parents trying to collect excited children at the end of the day.
I think I’ve got a fairly pragmatic take on starting school, so here are my tips on how as a parent to be ready for your children starting school:
1, Put them in nursery
Or at least take them to formal playgroups or nursery schools and somewhere that you’re not always with them. Not everyone puts their children in nursery school, and that’s fine. But to me, it’s a nobrainer to helping your child settle into school, and get the parents used to remembering that their children can be independent and that they’re ready to start school. With free hours, there’s not really any reason not to let them experience nursery/pre school.
2. Look round plenty of schools
While you can like a school on paper if it doesn’t feel right when you walk through the door, then it’s probably not the school for your child and your family.
3. Get to know parents from the school
Obviously that’s easier said than done if it’s not your local school but get to settling in sessions and join local playgroups or activities before starting school.
4. Apply in plenty of time for school places
There’s no point worrying about it, just make a decision and put the application in. Don’t leave it to your husband/wife, if you do check you’ve got confirmation it’s gone in.
5, Prepare early
Write lists, draw mind maps, create timelines. Whatever works for you but know what you need to do when, and talk to your child about the different steps. But talking to them about it, you’ll be able to worry about their worries (or not) rather than your own.
6, Talk about your concerns
To friends, family, online friends. Talking about your worries should help dispel them.
7, Take up hobbies
If your children are going to nursery or school for the first time and you don’t work, then find something to replace the children’s time at home. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but take up a hobby you lost when you had children, or start something new. Then you can tell your child about your hobby while they tell you about school.
8, Remember it’s your job as a parent to help kids develop
Children are always going to grow up, and school is just one of those next (big) steps. Think of life in stages and steps, rather than worrying that you’re losing your little one.
Because let’s face it, they’ll still be our ‘babies’ even when they tower over us.
Do you have children starting school this year? How are you finding it? What are you doing to stop the worrying?
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