How to settle your child into nursery and school
Starting a new nursery or going to school for the first time can be hard. There's a new environment to adjust to, rules to be followed and a uniform to wear. It can be even harder for the parents to let their child grow up! Here are the answers to some common worries.
How will my child cope with being away from me?
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“The first few days of school can be upsetting for even the most sociable of children, " says Dr Sonya Wallbank, child psychologist and owner of Midlands-based nurseries and after school clubs Capellas. Although the idea of 'big school' has been an appealing thought over the summer, the reality of new routines and expectations can be overwhelming and results in children acting out of their usual character. The important thing for parents is to try and manage their own anxiety.
“Separation anxiety or the emotions that you feel when apart from one another are not just something that children experience; you may find yourself just as upset at letting your little one go off to school as it marks changes in your life also.”
Dr Wallbanks's tips to help manage starting-school anxiety
- Try to think about the routines that you will establish for your child at the beginning and end of the day.
- Remind your child of how much they are going to learn and enjoy their day. Let them know you will be thinking about them and how excited you will be to hear about their day when you see them after school.
- Take time at the end of the day to communicate. Don't worry if you get very little in response to your questions as often children need to spend time processing their experiences and may not feel like talking. The important thing is to show them that you are interested in how they have got on. Don't forget to share your own day at the same time so your little one can be thinking about what you do when you are not together.
What should I pack in my child's bag?
What should my child be able to do before they start school?
What else can I do to prepare my child for school?
What should I do if my child doesn’t want to go?
School starters can be too young to articulate their worries, so a chat with the teacher might help identify the problem and develop a strategy to improve the situation. "Share your concerns with the school as they will be experienced in supporting you and your child to settle in," suggest Dr Wallbank. "Try to pay attention to how your child is reacting when you drop them off and pick them up. How do they respond when you ask them questions about how school is going or what friends they are playing with? Providing them with plenty of affection and reassurance about how starting school can be a tricky time is a great way to open up your child about how they are feeling."