Starting school is an enormous step in a young child’s life, and it’s a big event for their parents too.
Choosing a primary school
The school should be right for your child. There is always a lot of local gossip about schools, but what suits the child across the street may not be right for yours. As parents we are all interested in results, of course, but the style of teaching and the atmosphere of a school are more important than raw results.
In making your selection, think about:
1. the distance of the school from home and how long it will take your child to get there
2. the size of the classes
3.whether you want a single-sex or mixed school
4. what secondary school the children from each school move on to
5. where his friends will be going.
Preparing your child for school
Help your child become independent in using the toilet, in dressing and undressing (including changing for swimming or other sports). Provide shoes with laces, and clothes with elasticated waistbands to make it easier. Make sure your child can recognize his name. Name-tapes in his clothes have more purpose if he knows what his name looks like.
Tour the school and playground before day one. Many schools arrange for the next term’s intake to spend a morning with the new class teacher. Try to find other children who are starting at the same time as him.
Avoid talking about potential problems, and, if you hated your own school-days, it’s best to keep quiet about it.
Once your child starts school
He may be exhilarated by the experience of starting “big school”, but he’s also likely to be very tired at first. In many schools, newcomers attend mornings only to begin with. When you collect your child, he may be ready for a nap as well as his lunch. After he starts going for a full day, he may be hungry or fractious when he gets home. Give him a snack and a drink to boost his flagging energy.
Missing your child when he starts school
Going to school is an exciting time for your child and a time of change for you. It may be the first time you have been without your child’s company on a regular basis. If so, you may have lost touch with some of the things that used to interest you.
Organizing yourself as well as your child will give you less opportunity to miss him. Before your child starts school, think about how you want to use this new freedom, whether it’s paid work or a new pastime. Many parents miss their child, and you may be surprised to find that it’s not always the parents without jobs who miss their school-child most. Sometimes it’s the ones who’ve worked throughout who feel especially bereft, perhaps because starting school means that your child really is no longer a baby.
If you like this article, you will find many more child development insights from Dr Carol Cooper at http://www.ichild.co.uk