First day at school

Building your child’s confidence so that they start school excited, curious and ready to learn is important. 

When the big day is almost here for your child to be starting school, you are both likely to feel really excited about the new adventure but also nervous and anxious.  This article contains tips and ideas to help you and your child prepare for this important milestone in your lives.

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Things you can do before the first day

Talk to your child about what to expect at school, and stay positive when doing so. 

You may choose to share your own experiences, or read stories about starting school so they can identify with the character’s experiences.

Allow your child opportunities to practice getting in and out of their school uniform so that they become used to putting it on and begin to develop their independence.  You may wish to use pictures to prompt them in remembering what to do next.

Start getting your child into a routine by setting a clear bedtime and waking them up early, so they get to know what to expect.  The NHS provide guidance on how much sleep your child needs.

Be enthusiastic and positive about school, telling your child about all the exciting things that you get to do at school such as playing with new friends and getting to have a tasty lunch.

The following tips are taken from the pacey website:

  • Get your child ready for their new routine by switching their meal times to match those of the school day
  • Encourage your child to explore new environments and interact with new people
  • Talk to your child about what they are most looking forward to at school.

Your child is likely to wonder what school will be like when they arrive and what sort of things happen there during the day.  During the summer holidays, practice the school run; his can get them excited about starting there and also used to travelling to and from the school.

On their first day

Make the morning as relaxed as possible.  Have everything set out the night before, so you are not rushing around trying to find a lost shoe or misplaced bag.  Save time to get your ‘first day of school pictures’ and so you can arrive at school nice and early.

On the first day at school you will usually leave your child at the door (confirm this with your child’s school).  Saying goodbye on their first day can often prove a little difficult for both the parent and child but if you make a plan beforehand then this may go a little easier.  Here are some more tips:

  • Show them that you trust the teacher – form an initial relationship with the teacher in front of your child and let them see that you trust this new person.
  • Be as positive and excited as you can be for your child as if you show you are upset and anxious they will pick up on this.
  • Say goodbye properly – resist the urge to sneak away in the hope that your child might not notice.
  • Once you say goodbye leave promptly – avoid hanging around but reassure them that you will be picking them up later on.

If you are worried about saying goodbye to your child, you can discuss this with your child’s new teacher before September.  They should be able to reassure and support you.

In Reception classes, there is usually a phased approach taken to starting school, with pupils only coming in for certain periods of the days of the week.  However, some schools prefer to get children in full time from the beginning.  Check the information sent to you by the school to confirm this. 

The first day is all about getting your child familiar with their new surroundings, meeting their new classmates and getting used to their class teacher and teaching assistants.  There are many games and lots of playtime at the beginning of reception, which should mean your child has fun. Your child’s new teacher will be able to discuss your child’s first few days with you in more detail if you wish.  This information may also be in your child’s welcome and information packs.

End of their first day

It can be really exciting for parents to collect their child after their first day at school. You will want to know everything that has gone on in their day.  However, do not ask them too many questions, as they are likely to be quite tired, and will need some time to process their day and relax before they are ready to discuss this with you.  Keep any questions light and simple to start with. Children need time to process the question they have been asked before they can respond.  This can sometimes take up to 20 seconds, so ensure you are silent and give them lots of time.

If your child previously went to nursery or pre-school, they will still be very tired after their first day at school.  This may be reflected in their behaviour, and they could be more easily upset by things.  Your child is likely to be hungry, so take a snack with you to keep them going until tea time.

Further Information