Transition to School

K-6 Educational Resources - Board of Studies NSW

How do I build my child’s confidence for school?

Some children adapt very easily to school. It is important that you do not display anxiety but talk about the excitement of attending school, without building this to an excessive level, and present school as the next interesting chapter in your child’s life.

Visit the library and borrow books about children going to school. Download stories your child may like to read and read them on a computer or tablet.

As a parent, reframe your questions about school, preschool and day care from, ‘What did you do today?’ to a more positive question such as ‘Tell me the best thing you did at school today’. This is a useful way of talking with your child after school – not just in kindergarten, but also throughout their schooling.

What else can I do?

·         Start to get your child into regular sleep and waking hour routines. Children need to be in bed at a reasonable time so that they wake up refreshed. Do not have televisions or technology (eg computers or tablets) in the child’s room. If these items must be in the room, establish a routine, such as not allowing them to be on after dinner. This will help your child begin to relax and prepare for sleep.

·         Establish packing away routines with toys and encourage your child to help with simple tasks around the home.

·         Label your child’s belongings for school. Set a pattern that expensive toys and treasured items are not taken to school. If they get lost or broken, this can create a lot of anxiety for you and your child.

·         Help your child learn to dress themselves in their uniform.

·         Ensure your child can go to the toilet unassisted and teach them how to ask the teacher should they need to use the toilet during class time.

·         Practise walking or travelling to school. Transport for NSW has useful guides for parents. This includes information on student bus travel.

·         Become familiar with the many resources available to help keep your child safe as they journey to school, eg road safety education resources.

·         Have your child help you pack their lunch. Remember schools are nut-free zones, so consider carefully what to provide in your child’s lunch box. Many parents make the mistake of over-packing the amount of food a child will need in a day and children struggle to eat it. If you are unsure, ask your child to bring home any uneaten lunch so you can gauge the amount of food that is acceptable. Think about easy-to-open lunch boxes, re-useable water bottles, sandwiches, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Relax! If you are stressed, your child may sense this and worry.

Some children have special or additional needs. If your child has an identified learning or other need, make sure you let the school know early so that a plan can be put into place to assist your child. Each plan will be different, so it is important to provide the school with all the information they will need to understand your child's needs.

How can I work best with my child’s school?

It is important for parents and teachers to work together and communicate effectively. Teachers are highly trained professionals who want to do the best for your child. It can help if you:

·         let the teacher know if there is something happening at home that may be affecting your child

·         let the teacher know about any health problems your child may have

·         read all the school notices and reply as soon as possible

·         get involved in school activities, eg attend children's reading sessions, join parents associations.

If you need to see the teacher, it is wise to make an appointment. Prior to school, teachers have meetings and preparation to complete. It is not a good idea to expect teachers to meet with you as they are taking the children into class in the morning. This is a crucial part in your child’s day and it is important the teacher follows the established routines every day.

Make an appointment to see the teacher if you are concerned about your child.

Children do best at school when their parents and teachers work together to support them.

What can I expect in the first few weeks of school?

Learning, meeting new people, playing and learning to adjust to a new environment are all very tiring for children. Often your child will want to rest after school. Try not to over-plan your child’s afternoons, particularly in the first term of school. You might need to:

·         plan a light, nutritious snack for after school or give your child an early dinner as they may be more tired than usual

·         encourage your child to talk about the good things that happened and do not pressure them to talk too much if they are not up to it. Some children like to wind down completely in a quiet environment after a busy day at school. Other children may be happy to draw about their day or play something completely unrelated to school

·         make reading part of your daily routine. Reading to your child as they prepare for bed is a wonderful way to relax your child before bed, spend some quality time together and build the important skills of vocabulary, story structure and a love of reading

·         pack a spare pair of underpants in your child’s bag. Talk to your child about how they can let the teacher know when they need to go to the toilet.

What can I do if my child is stressed?

It is important that you do not become overly anxious and stressed about school, as your child will pick up on your feelings. Some children become tearful and struggle to go to school. Remain calm but firm and reassuring. Try not to show stressed emotions, as this is often a signal to your child who will escalate the situation. Contact the school and seek their help. Often the teacher will be able to meet you and assist you during this period. Most children settle quite well once their parent has left the school, but if you need reassurance organise to ring the school. The teacher can leave a message for you at the office and you and your child will have a better day.

Encourage your child to talk about what exactly is worrying them. Ask your child what they think might help them settle.

Be clear in your expectations. Let your child know you are confident that they can manage. Letting the teacher know by letter or email is a good strategy, as the teacher will be there to help you. Your child’s older buddy may be a useful support in these situations as well.