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Getting Ready for the First Day of School

It’s a bittersweet experience when we see our children put on their school uniforms for the first time and get ready to go to school. Once we can no longer deny that our children are growing up, all sorts of fears and worries about our children’s ability to cope with school life begin to swim in our minds. But it’s not just the parents who are apprehensive. Children, especially those who have never experienced a strict and regimented school system in their initial years, may find their first school experience particularly tiring and possibly over-stimulating due to the larger size of the school compound and school population.

In six simple ways, parents would be able to help their children get ready for their first day of school and make school-going fun and enjoyable for them.

Learning Practical skills

This one goes without saying for the majority of Singaporean parents, who would have most likely hired private tutors to ensure that the children are up to speed on the Primary 2 curriculum by the time they are halfway through kindergarten. However, the skills that children needs are not always academic in nature. Children should be accustomed to keeping awake for the duration of the school day without fighting the urge to take a nap, as they might have done in nursery and kindergarten. They would need to look after their own belongings and handle money, perhaps for the first time, when they purchase meals at the school canteen. When they are lost, or in trouble, they would need to have the resourcefulness and initiative necessary to find an adult and ask for help.

Learning Social Skills

Social skills are also incredibly important. If your child tends to be withdrawn or quiet, it might be difficult for him to make friends with others right away. Parents could organise play dates or take the child to a playground where he could befriend and play with other children of his own age. In this way, the child would find it easier to break the ice with new schoolmates. If the child is shy by nature, it might be helpful to guide him or her by reminding them gently to smile, to say hello, or ask simple questions such as ‘Do you want to play with me?’ or ‘Do you want to sit beside me?’ to their new schoolmates. If your child suffers from separation anxiety, it might be necessary to try and get your child used to the idea of being apart from you for gradual increments of time too.

Talking to the Teacher

If you’re really anxious to prepare your child for every eventuality on the first day of school, you could try contacting the form teacher before the start of the school term, provided that this is aligned with the school’s policies. By reaching out to the teacher you could gain a better understanding of the class situation, and learn of new ways to help your child transition better into his new role as a student. The teacher could also benefit from a more in-depth understanding of your child’s personality, strengths, or weaknesses.

Preparing for School Together

Remember not to take charge of school preparations and run the whole show by yourself. Once your child feels involved in the preparations, he will gain greater confidence in himself and display a stronger interest in attending school. Try purchasing school supplies together with your child, such as a new school bag, pencil case or stationery, and letting him know the purpose of each item. Reading books about other children who are going to school is also a great way of easing him into the idea.

Using Positive Communication

Always remain positive about going to school. This does not mean that you should ignore or dismiss your child’s fears about entering this new environment, but to acknowledge these fears and encourage the child to remain positive. Talk about the great experiences that you have had in school, or talk about what you had loved in school. In any case, moderation is key. Try not to go overboard, lest this leads to the child having wildly unrealistic expectations on their first day of school.

Organising the Day’s Schedule

One of the harder things for parents to do when their child reaches school-going age, is to manage their time effectively while coping with the school routine. Children may be restless and bored when forced to remain seated in the classroom for a much longer period than they are used to. They may also find difficulty coping with tiredness or hunger as they would have to follow the school timetable strictly. In the days leading up to the start of school, parents could help their children prepare for school by creating a fixed routine. A fixed routine diminishes any uncertainty on the part of the child, and helps parents and children manage their time well. For instance, parents could set a fixed time for the child to meals and also, the time to go to bed as well as to wake.

28 Dec 2017