If your child’s raring for his first day at school but you’re feeling nervous about waving goodbye, follow our tips to help you feel as brave as your child
That date circled on the calendar has finally arrived - it's your child's first day at school. There is a buzz in the house. A sense of excitement, apprehension, curiosity - and that's just your feelings as a parent! What if my child doesn't make any friends? What if he hates it and doesn't settle? While you may be feeling apprehensive, the fact is that this is the start of a long and exciting journey - for both you and your child. While you may be feeling tentative about letting go of your child's hand on that first day, he may be more than ready for her big adventure to begin. So wipe away those tears and get ready for your child's brand new adventure...
Nothing's going to make that first day at school more fretful than you tearing round trying to find a change of clothes and the paperwork you need to sign. Pack your child's bag in advance every night before a school day.
One of the banes of school life is losing possessions - something will inevitably go astray. You can minimise losses by encouraging him to look after his own belongings, putting things away in bags and hanging items on specific pegs. When it comes to labelling clothing, ask him to choose a special symbol that is his own unique mark - perhaps a smiley face or a star - to help him recognise her own things at a glance in those fraught early weeks when everyone's items may look identical to your child's.
One of our biggest problems is that children pick up on their parents being anxious. If the parents find it difficult to leave, then the child will almost inevitably find it difficult too.
Karen Rapley, reception teacher
It's true that reason most children cry when you drop them off at school is because you're still there, and once you leave they're fine. "To assure parents that this really is the case, schools will often invite parents to leave the room and watch the CCTV in an office for 5 or 10 minutes, until their child calms down," says Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association. "Then you can leave with your mind at rest."
Whether it's coffee with your mum or a shopping trip with a girlfriend, make sure you have something fun to keep you occupied during those first few days. If you can meet up with a mum who's an old hand at this school lark, even better, as she can reassure you when you start to obsess.
Let your child's teacher know if there are any issues at home that might affect your child's behaviour and the teacher can then keep you updated on her progress.
If you're finding it difficult to relax and stop worrying, remind yourself that the school will always call you if there's a problem with your child.
As a parent, you have to accept that this is a stage in your child's development and they are becoming more independent. Put on a brave face, then go round the corner and weep. And when that glorious first day is done, you can start the age-old tradition of asking, "What did you get up to at school today?" Then let him recount his tales of glory and defeat, of friendships made and games played.
"The thought of my little girl growing up was all too much," says Jodie Keyes, teacher and mother to 7-year-old Lucy. "But when I stop to reflect on the confidence and resilience she showed on her first day, I feel so proud."
As you're walking down the road on that very first day, remind yourself that there's a whole cast of new characters to get to know - teachers, students, other parents - and a plot that is yet to be written. You may be the producer of this adventure; the teacher may be the director; but it is your child who is about to join the cast of her very own wonderful primary school musical.
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