9 tips on how to prepare the little ones for big school

The transition from nursery to primary school is a big step for both your child and you as a parent. They’re embarking on a brand new chapter of their life and that’s bound to be an emotional and overwhelming experience – probably more for you than your child. Here are nine tips to survive the nervous anticipation of the first day, new routines and people, and to solve any of those emotional and practical jitters.

1. Share your experiences

In preparation for your child’s first day, get them acquainted with the idea of school as soon as possible. Visit your local library and find fun and uplifting books about going to school that you can read together. This is also a good time for you to share any of your own memories of school. Avoid retelling any past horrors and stick to strictly happy tales about your favourite teacher, subject or games you played in the playground.

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Photo by: Robin Alasdair Frederick Hutton

2. Make sure there are no surprises

Keep your child informed about all that happens during a full day of school so they’re prepared, ahead of time. It’s the unknown that will cause them to worry so be sure to tell them all about the little things – that they’ll have lunch with the other kids, go to the loo on their own, dress for PE, where the playground is and when you’ll pick them up at the end of the day.

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Photo by: Spirit fire

3. Do a dry run

Do a practice school run before school starts. This way, if you haven’t been to the school before you’ll know ahead of time where to park, you’ll be familiar with transport options and you’ll know which entrance to use. Your child can then get acquainted with the school building and you can point out things of interest like the playground. Also, familiarise yourself with the school’s website and have a good read through the school’s brochure with your child before the first day.

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Photo by: Mads Bødker

4. Change the routine

The summer holidays may not be over but it’s a good idea to get into a more ordered routine before school even starts. Set bedtime a little earlier and get your child to wake up at a more suitable time in the morning. This goes for you too. If you or your child is tired and cranky in the morning, it certainly won’t bode well for a great start on the first day.

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Photo by: Kevin Shorter

5. Make introductions

Your child won’t be the only one who is new on the first day of school. It’s a day of firsts for about thirty kids and their parents too. If you know any children that might be starting school with your child, plan a play-date ahead of time so the kids can be introduced and there’s a familiar face on the first day. Don’t worry though if your child doesn’t know anyone before the start of school. The teacher will be well versed in handling first day introductions and they’ll be making friends in no time too.

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Photo by: Tiarescott

6. Meet the teacher

If possible, meet with the teacher for a brief introduction and to raise any issues you may have before the school year starts. Do this ahead of time so you’re not just one face in a sea of parents dropping their child off on the first day of school. Also, make sure your child is familiar with their teacher’s name and knows that if there are any problems during the day their teacher is the best person to talk to.

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Photo by: Ilmicrofono Oggiono

7. Go shopping

There is nothing like going ‘back to school’ shopping to get your child prepared for the school year. Take your child with you to buy their uniform and any needed stationery before the summer is over to avoid any items being sold out. Buy multiples of their uniform so you have minimal laundry each week and be sure to put your child’s name on all items of clothing, including shoes and underwear, so nothing goes missing after PE.

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Photo by: Chicago’s North Shore Conventions & Visitors Burea

8. Practicalities

There are a few practical skills beyond reading and writing that will help your child as they embark on school, like eating independently and going to the loo on their own. Also, teach them how to recognise their own name so they can identify their school kit after PE. Try playing a game of ‘school’ before the first day too so your child can learn things like raising their hand before asking a question and sitting quietly in a circle.

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Photo by: Andrew Dawes

9. Hide it

It’s no doubt that the first day of school will be more emotional for you than your child. You may cry, but try to hide any tears until after you leave the school gates. If you’re telling your child that they’re going to enjoy school, they may get confused and upset if it’s a tearful goodbye. Stiff upper lips all around, please.

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Photo by: Jonny Hughes

Treat your mini scholars

Get the kids really excited about going back to school with a fun new pencil case, lunchbox, or even a new school bag from our Back to School range.