Make the first day great

2011-01-15 00:00

A child’s first day at school is often dreaded by parents and is equally traumatising for the little pre-schoolers who may have never spent a day away from home. On Wednesday, many will be facing the daunting corridors of their first school with eyes as big as last season’s sunglasses. Last year, public schools welcomed 250 395 grade one pupils and the Education Department’s Mbali Thusi said a five percent increase is expected this year. THARUNA DEVCHAND asked for tips to help make your child’s first day a great one.

• Get to the school early and meet the teacher. Go into the classroom with your child and help them unpack their lunch box and other items.

• Point out and greet any of your child’s friends that you may see. Look at pictures on the wall together.

• Do not stay too long, especially if your child is feeling nervous or is tearful.

• Be excited and don’t show any anxiety that you may be feeling.

•Give them a big hug goodbye, reminding them of where to meet you after school and leave quickly and happily.

• Parents need to have trust in the school, the teachers and the child as well as vigilance concerning factors that may interrupt or rupture the child’s development of resilience (the foundation of their freedom to learn). A school worth attending can accommodate any parent’s questions and anxieties about systems and individual relationships in the school.

• Focus on your child’s positive resources in the biological, psychological and environmental areas: “You look so tall in your new school shoes. Your eyes shine so brightly under your new green school hat. I notice that even though you are a bit scared of all the new things, you are still walking strongly with me to your classroom.”

• Some children require some form of “transitional object” with them to help them bridge the gap between home and school.

If this is essential for the child, then I suggest a drawing of a teddy (preferably done by the child) or a photograph; a teeny bit of the precious blanket; one of Mum’s clips; or a bit of dad’s fishing line (always at the child’s suggestion or choice) pinned or glued somewhere safe on the inside of their school bag. Be mindful of causing inconvenience to the teacher or ridicule to the child.

• It’s difficult for children to be in a foreign or new environment and they therefore need to be prepared for this. Take them around the school before their first day and describe how great their days at school will be.

• Reassure them that they will be back at home with you in a few hours.

•Add a treat into their lunch box for the day, something comforting for them.

•Boys are children too and are just as scared. Tell them that it’s okay to feel scared and reassure them that everything’s going to be okay.

• Never overlook the feelings, thoughts and anxieties of your child.

• Make certain that your child is ready for their first day at school. They must have everything that they need: school uniforms, stationery. Because if they have the wrong uniform for example, they stand out. The child mustn’t feel different.

•Make your child feel excited about school. Sometimes children are threatened by going to school and they don’t like it.

They have 12 years in school and its important that they like it from the beginning.

• Give your child balanced little meals. Look at meals that will sustain children, such as low GI foods. Try to make children healthy from a young age.

•Transport needs to be arranged properly. Make certain that there is a spot that they know to go to if they get lost and make certain that there is someone to look for them. It is easy for a young child to get lost and you must ensure that you know how they are returning home.

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