How to prepare your child for primary school

Starting primary school can be an intense experience, both for the children and parents involved. Primary school is the first step on a long path and it is important that your child is as prepared as possible.

The majority of children are understandably nervous prior to starting primary school. They don't really know what to expect and the idea of being separated from their parents � an environment where they feel safe and protected � for so long can be particularly daunting.

These feelings are totally normal, but there are some things parents can do in order to make the whole experience much easier.

School routine - start changing your child's schedule gradually. Establish a suitable bed time, wake them up earlier and introduce regular meals into their routine as well. This way, their body will start getting used to the new routine and, hopefully, on the first day of school it won't be too hard for them to rise in the morning or fall asleep at night.

Visit the school - it could be a good idea to familiarise your child with their new environment by taking them for a brief visit in the weeks before they start school. The more they know about it, the better they are likely to feel about the process.

Tell them what to expect - part of the 'first day nerves' come from not knowing what is going to happen. To overcome this, you could explain to your children what it is like going to school, share your own stories about your experiences at Primary school and read to them from books on the topic. The more positive stories they hear, the more excited they will be about starting school.

Prepare them for the tough times - even the bravest child is going to feel a little overwhelmed when leaving their parents to enter an entirely new environment. To make that process less difficult, talk with your child about it. Let them know exactly how many hours they will spend there and what time you will be picking them up. This level of re-assurance could be invaluable.

School routine - if it is possible, talk with your child's future teacher and find out what the first day is going to be like. You can then tell your child exactly what to expect from the day. The teacher might also be able to offer you some tips to make your child's first day easier. You can also tell the teacher about any important aspects of your child's personality and behaviour.

Ask them about their first day - once the first day of primary school is over, pick up your child (don't be late) and ask them about their day, who they met, what they did, what the names of their teachers or friends are and what they had to eat. They will love having something new to tell you about and will look forward to the next day!
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