Okay parentals, who is freaking out about their babies starting school shortly?
I know I’m raising my hand.
I figured there would be at least one or two other people out there who are feeling like school is as scary and mysterious as the next season of Game of Thrones. So, I’m attempting to help myself and other lost souls like me, by giving advice and seeking advice on this mysterious school biz.
What should our child know before they start school?
This one I know, I’ve been there before, I’ve seen those ‘freaking out faces’ of the parents as they tell me that their child can’t write their name or can’t count to 500 yet. Okay, we just need to grab a glass of wine or assume a yoga pose here and calm down, that is why they go to school.
Typically, your child should be able to toilet and dress themselves- adequately losing their jumper at least fifty times. They should be able to interact and cooperate fairly well with both adults and children, know about their own identity and be able to follow simple directions, however this will be fine-tuned in school.
They will be in charge of their own belongings, so they need to have the skills to manage their lunch box and their bag. Emotionally, developing resilience is paramount here, our kids should be able to be separated from us without too many tears and can manage a variety situations without too much drama.
What will happen on the first day?
The first morning can be a little overwhelming, you’ll feel a little like you just rocked up late to a Foo Fighters concert, as many family members want to help celebrate this amazing milestone (by taking 100 photos of them in their uniform). A classroom meet and greet will occur and children will be directed to where to put their belongings. The schools usually encourage this time to last around 10-20 minutes and then it is time to say goodbye.
The ‘students’ will usually start with a sit-down session together, where they are welcomed and will discuss what will happen each day, learning the daily routine is super important for the children to prepare themselves emotionally. The class will often do a school tour and meet staff, find the toilets, the sick bay and all the important areas to hold gang meetings.
But seriously, this first week will usually be about building relationships within the room and becoming comfortable with their new environments, there also will be lots of stories, games and some developmental start-up learning. Some schools also offer a morning tea for parents, the ones shaking in a ball, they know that this transition is often harder for the parents than the child.
LISTEN: A teacher shares everything she wishes parents knew about school (post continues after audio...)
What is expected of us mere mortals on the first day?
There is no one reaction of the families, you might find some running away in their kilts yelling “freedom”, while others will be a blubbering mess. Primary school principal, Tracy Peters, recommends, "Make sure to say goodbye to your child each day, sneaking off can only upset and traumatise children, if your child is upset, find a friend or the teacher to help out during the separation time."
"Children take on a lot of the emotions of their family, so be sure to model a positive attitude towards all areas of learning and if you’re feeling stressed or anxious about them starting school, be aware that all these can rub off on the child too."
Peters continues, "Encourage children to carry their own belongings, this encourages their independence from the first day."
"Build a positive relationship with the teacher and the school staff from the first day, if you work together well and are aligned, it makes a huge difference. Don’t lose sleep over the size and population of the playground, these are usually managed by their teacher and extra staff over the first few days."
At the end of the day, most schools want parents to wait outside until the children are dismissed, during the first term the staff usually like to hand the children over to the families personally.
What do teachers want us to know?
"We encourage parents to come in and help out at the school, it helps the teachers out a lot, they just need to apply for a 'working with children check' to do so through The Department of Justice and Regulation," Primary school teacher, Jana Payne, says.
She also recommends what we all know we need to do - "label everything".
"The first month will mostly be about learning school routines and creating relationships," adds Peters.
"The children will come home very tired, so make sure your children get plenty of sleep. Even if they are used to long day care, being at school is different, so if they come home and tell you they didn’t learn anything, it’s because they are mentally drained.
"The first month is also spent competing a range of assessments on the children, so that we can make sure we are teaching them at the point of need."
The children will be covering basics in literacy and numeracy and we focus on the ‘whole child’, encompassing learning about themselves, their communities, building on self-confidence and virtues such as resilience and kindness.
In conclusion, families, stay strong and save the tears for the car ride home.
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