Do you have a little one starting school for the first time this year? We have some terrific tips on how to transition your child from daycare to primary school.
The experience can be a daunting one, and not just for your child. It is important that you work together to make the transition as smooth as possible, giving your child and you the best chance possible to adjust to this big life change.
It is a hard thing to leave behind the carers at their childcare centre or kindergarten teachers, ones who may have known and looked after your child for years. Your child (and you) may feel sad to say goodbye to their carers and friends they have made along the way. It is important to coach your child and provide a safe space for them to experience these feelings.
Is your child ready for primary school?
The number one aspect of transitioning is identifying if your child is actually ready to start primary school. This is not simply dependent on if your child can write their name or read, it takes into account your whole child. Their emotional maturity, social skills, level of independence and their age are just a few of the factors that need to be considered.
The educators and carers at your childcare or kindergarten will be your best source of information as to whether your child is ready for primary school. They can provide advice and support to help ready your child for the big transition, as well as strategies you can put in place to help. Have a chat to them about if your child is showing signs of school readiness, and what to do if they are not.
How you can help your child prepare for school
There is a lot you can do in the lead up to the transition to school to help your child.
- Talk positively about school and how much fun it will be.
- Discuss what their day will entail once they start school, everything from when they will have to get up and how they will get to school, to what they will have in their lunchbox and what they will learn.
- Organise a visit to the school before they start. Show them their classroom, where to hang their bag, the toilets and the playground. This way they will be familiar with the school before you drop them off for their first day.
- Arrange a time to meet your child’s teachers so they won’t be strangers on the day.
- Spend time together reading books about starting school.
- Make sure you foster independence in your child, such as learning to take off their jumper or coat, carry their own school bag and being able to toilet by themselves.
- Attend the orientation days. These days provide further opportunities to get to know your child’s teachers and the classroom environment. You can also meet other parents and children, maybe even set up playdates so on the first day of school there will be familiar faces.
- Take your child shopping so they can pick out their own backpack and lunchbox. When you have outings, pack their backpack and lunchbox so they can practice carrying it.
- Practice for the first day of school. This involves establishing a school night routine like laying out school uniform and packing lunch, as well as setting an alarm for the morning. Then in the morning you can practice getting up on time, getting dressed, eating breakfast and drive or walk to school.
How you can help your child settle at primary school
You can prepare and practice as much as you want however, there may still be first day jitters. You can help support your child to settle confidently, happily and comfortably into the primary school environment, regardless of how you are feeling on the inside!
The number one trick is to communicate clearly. Talk about the drop-off process and make a plan with your child how it will happen. Ideally, you will say a quick and confident goodbye, keeping your own anxiety hidden. If your child sees you upset or anxious they may become upset and anxious. Try to save the tears for the lonely trip home!
When you pick your child up after their first day, ask how it went. Focus on the positives of school and their day so they are excited to wake up and do it all over again.
Our top tips for making the transition to primary school.
- Foster independence by having your child carry their own bags dressing or undressing by themselves.
- Start the primary school night time and morning routine a few days or even a week early so they are used to it before the first day of school.
- Provide a healthy and filling breakfast each day.
- Attend orientation and organise extra visits so your child is familiar with the school and recognises faces before the first day.
- Make sure you are organised with everything you need from bags and lunchboxes to uniform, shoes and hats complete with labels before school starts.
Transitioning to primary school is a huge milestone and an emotional rollercoaster, and not just for your child. Following our top tips can make the big change from daycare or kinder to primary school.
Before you know it your child will have settled into the primary school routine and will barely glance back as they race through the school gates.