An emotional and practical guide to your child's first day of school, from a mum who knows.

TerryWhite Chemmart
Thanks to our brand partner, TerryWhite Chemmart

Parenthood is full of milestones and your child starting school is a big one. One minute you have a baby in your arms and the next you’re packing a lunchbox and sending them to prep!

It’s a huge adjustment and it’s important to prepare your child (and yourself) for the myriad of emotions you might experience – excitement, trepidation, joy, sadness, nervousness and pride.

It’s also important to get practical and ensure your child is equipped with the tools they need to look after themselves during the school day.

Like most things, preparation is key. Easing both your child and yourself into the new routine of school will make the transition a lot easier.

Here are a few handy ways you can get ready for the first day of school:

1. Do a trial trip.

Before the term starts, familiarise your child with the school and its surroundings. If you’re planning to cycle or walk to school, do a trial run so you can time the route (and scope out a coffee shop on the way for a pre-school latte/hot chocolate). It might have been a while since your child did their official orientation, so getting them used to the environment (even if it’s only peeking through the school gates) will make it less daunting when school starts.

2. Talk about how life will change.

My son has been in daycare three times a week since he was 12 months old. Still, it’s a big leap to attending school. Talk to your child about when school will start and finish, reassure them that you will be there to pick them up and chat about how much fun it will be getting to know their teacher and new friends. Keep the conversations positive but also let your child know they can talk to you about anything that might be worrying them.

Back to school
One minute they're a baby, the next minute they're five. (Image: Supplied)

3. Stock up to keep them healthy.

Starting school means your child may come home with more than a half-empty lunchbox. Kids pick up a fair few scrapes, viruses and bugs in the classroom and schoolyard - it’s all part of growing up. Be prepared by heading into your local TerryWhite Chemmart and stocking up with things like head lice treatments, chewable multivitamins, painkillers, band-aids and antiseptic. Also, chat with your TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist about anything else you might need, like asthma reliever medication or spacers.


Oh, and a bag of peas in the freezer can't hurt either!

4. Let them pick their school stuff.

I’ve always been big on involving my kids in decision-making, celebrating their individuality and respecting their opinions and preferences (hence why my three-year-old son has an enviable Barbie collection complete with a campervan). In the lead-up to school, let your child choose their backpack and lunchbox, then encourage them to decorate it with their favourite stickers. It sounds simple, but it’ll help your child feel like they are a part of the transition to school rather than it being something that’s happening to them.

Let your child pick their own lunch box and decorate it. (Image: Supplied)

5. Get to bed early.

Sometime between November and January, my five-year-old’s bedtime went from 7.30pm to 9pm as we indulged his love of Disney movies and Battle Bots (don’t ask). During the holidays he can sleep in, but when school starts he’ll have to be up early to enjoy a stress-free breakfast. If your child’s bedtime routine has become a bit lax over the holidays, start gradually bringing it back into line before the school term kicks off. Exhausted kids plus long days plus new environments? Never a good combo.

6. Introduce a sun safety routine.

Put a roll-on sunscreen in your child’s backpack so they can reapply it easily throughout the day. If you’ve been the chief sunscreen applier in your house, start getting your child to apply their own sunscreen and make sure they don’t miss any spots (the back of my son’s neck is four shades darker than the rest of him). Getting your child into a good sun safety routine will encourage their independence and ensure they are protected from harmful rays while playing outside. Again, speaking with your TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist about proper sun protection for your child before their big day can ease a lot of worry.

Back to school tips.
He's becoming a sun safety master before my very eyes. (Image: Supplied)

7. Organise a pre-school playdate.

If your child has been to a local kinder and is attending a local school, it’s likely they’ll know a few kids in their prep class. Still, it doesn’t hurt to organise a holiday playdate with one (or more) of the kids who will be at school with them. Having a buddy will give your little one a sense of familiarity and confidence if they’re feeling a bit anxious about it all.

Getting ready for your child’s first day of school is all about preparation. It’s an emotional time, but it’s also incredibly exciting as your ‘baby’ reaches this significant milestone. Good luck - and don’t forget the tissues!

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner TerryWhite Chemmart.

Have you been through the first day of school with your child? Tell us your tips in the comments below.