I've been all industry and practicality as we count down the final days until Bijou starts school. She will embark on such learning adventures of this I am sure, and am incredibly grateful for. But she will no longer shadow me as I walk through my days as she has done these five years. My heart can't help but be heavy.
I have always been mindful however to shield her from my inner torment and have shown her nothing but excitement and positivity about this new chapter. With gentle conversations I have hoped to prepare her emotionally for her adventure.
These ideas were passed onto parents when I was teaching and with the shoe on the other foot I have found my old ways reassuring and helpful as we prepare for that very special first day. I hope something speaks to you too.
- Although speaking positively about school is important try to be mindful not to build up expectation and feed excitement too much. It is simply the next step in growing up and creating too much positive tension can often be overwhelming to little ones. Or alternatively, disappointing when school doesn't quite live up to all their rainbow coloured ideals.
- Read books about starting school and have gentle chats about how the characters are feeling. Your child may voice their own concerns when walking through school life in stories. We particularly like, Starting School by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker.
- Talk your child through what a day will look like. Treating a day at home like a school day complete with morning tea and big lunch, outside play and quiet afternoon activities can be a fun way to rehearse all the practical things like opening lunch boxes, not eating all their food at the first break, going to the toilet etc. It can also calm nerves as a mental map of the day is filed away.
- Practising morning routines in the weeks prior can also make the transition much smoother for everyone.
- An early bedtime the night before may help to offset the inevitable early rise on the big day. Try to create a gentle, slow morning with adequate time for a good breakfast and a visit to the toilet.
- On the big day, if possible avoid inviting other family members. It is an incredibly special occasion but most classrooms barely contain the twenty-five or so children, so imagine its groaning with fifty parents, siblings and grandparents.
- When leaving, try not to linger too long. Stay calm and reassuring and although it is emotional try not to cry in front of your child as this can cause confusion and anxiety (I will be wearing my dark sunnies and summoning every drop of willpower). If your child becomes distressed your teacher will be at your side to help and the best thing (and yes, the hardest!) you can do is to leave calmly. We always contacted parents when their child had settled which was most often only minutes after their departure. Never sneak out to avoid tears but tell them it is time for you to go and that you will be back to get them in the afternoon.
- Enjoy all that is this exciting new chapter. I'm going to try my very hardest.
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