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Starting School

Once you've decided which school you would like your child to attend, the next step is enrolment and preparing for this new phase in your child's life.

Enrolling your child can be as easy as contacting the school of your choice and filling in the relevant forms, or may involve putting your child’s name down at a private school from shortly after their birth. Our tips on choosing a school might help if you are still deciding which school is right for your child.
Before school starts
  • Visit the school together so your child is familiar with the grounds, including the drink taps, toilets and classroom.
  • Visit the school when the other children are there so he can get used to the noise of the playground and the size of the ‘big’ students.
  • Meet your child's teacher together and give your child an idea of how many children will be in the class.
  • Show him where the after-school care facilities are, if needed.
  • Get him to try on his uniform and shoes before the first day to make sure everything fits.
  • Make sure he has all the extras such as a bag, hat, art smock and library bag.
  • It will help if he knows another child from class before he starts, so try to organise play dates with other children before the first day.
  • Explain the basic school rules, such as putting up your hand, asking before going to the toilet, listening quietly when necessary and doing what the teacher asks.
  • Have a practice run with his lunchbox to make sure he can take off the lid (perhaps before buying the box).
  • Give your child lots of love and support and be excited and enthusiastic about him starting school.

During the first few weeks
Your child will need a lot of support when he starts school. There are simple things you can do to help these first few weeks go smoothly:
  • Pick him up on time – if you’re late it could make him feel very anxious.
  • Try to make after-school time a bit special, with a snack and time for the two of you to chat.
  • Your child may want to blurt out every little detail about school, or clam up completely – either way, be patient and respect your child's response to this new experience.
  • He will probably be famished when he gets home; school is a hungry business! He may want to snack after school and miss his normal dinner.
  • He may be grumpy and tired for the first few weeks, especially in hot weather. You could try keeping him quiet at home and aim for early bedtimes for the first few weeks.
  • Don’t expect too much too soon. If he’s happy and seems to be enjoying school, that’s a real achievement. The rest will come later.
  • If your child doesn’t seem to be settling well, or reports teasing or bullying, speak to his teacher.
Settling in and doing well
If you show your child that you think he can manage at school then he will start to believe it too. Try not to let him know about any worries you may have; sometimes it’s helpful to talk to other parents about how they are doing this.

If possible, try taking part in school social events and getting involved with fundraising or working bees. Make time to get to know your child’s teacher. Invite a school friend to play to further increase the links between school and home.

At home you can help him with reading and any ‘home work’ such as finding interesting show-and-tell or costumes for special days. You can be an active partner in your child’s education.

In the whole new world that is school, it will help if your child understands the following:

  • How the school routine operates, for example, that he has to sit on the mat in the morning and come in from play when the bell rings. You could try reminding him about this routine.
  • He has to listen when his teacher is talking and then put up his hand when he wants to ask a question.
  • He needs to cooperate, share and play fairly with other children.
  • All the teachers are there to help and he can ask for help at any time.

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