How to prepare your child for primary school

Aug 2023

Naturally, children can be apprehensive about starting primary school - it's a big change for them, the first step on a new journey that lasts until they finish compulsory education at age 18. As a parent, you'll understandably want to make sure that your child is as prepared to begin primary school as possible.

Here's a list of a few things that you can do in order to make the whole experience much easier for both you and your child:

Establish a before-school routine - start changing your child's schedule gradually. Establish a suitable bed time and time to wake up. Introduce set meal times into their routine as well. This way, their body will start getting used to the school routine and they will be ready to prepare for their first school morning.

Take your child to 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 where they're going, the more comfortable they will be and the better they're likely to feel about the process.

Tell them what to expect - part of the 'first day nerves' come from not knowing what will happen. To overcome this, you can explain to your child what going to school is like and share your own stories about your time at primary school. You could 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  at times, 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 possible, talk with your child's 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 specific needs or accomodations your child may require.

Ask them about their first day - once the first day of primary school is over, encourage them to discuss and talk about it. Ask 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!