Taking the stress out of starting school

By Kate Reid, 22 January 2018 , Comments

Starting school can be a stressful and scary time for kids and their parents or carers. It’s a new environment, with new people and a whole new routine that will become part of everyday life for years to come.

To ensure you’re prepared for the coming weeks, we spoke to Northcott’s Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) team to get their tips on how to make starting school for you and your little one as stress-free as possible.

Get prepared

When it comes to new experiences you can never be too prepared. By this stage most of the planning will be done, but it’s important to sort out the finer details. Consider things like how is your child getting to and from school, is their teacher informed of any specific needs your child may have, does your child have enough school uniforms to get them through the week. Working out all the details before school starts will help to reduce stress on yourself and your child. 

Create a social story

A social story is a short description of what can be expected during a certain event or activity. For a social story around attending school this may include where your child be going, what is the purpose of school, who will be there, what activities they will do and other relevant details. Keep it as simple, yet informative, as possible to avoid confusion or unnecessary stress.

Read the social story to your child regularly in the lead up to the first day of school so they are well prepared for what is about to happen. For an example of a social story, check out the NSW Department of Education’s book ‘A Special Place’.

Practice the daily routine

Routines help to create structure around a particular event, and though we know that things don’t always go to plan, it helps to have a set routine that your child can become familiar with.

In the week before school starts, practice getting up in the morning, getting organised for the day and getting to and from school. Assist your child with using their lunchbox and try to plan some fun surprises for them to enjoy over those first few daunting weeks. Developing a visual schedule can help in this process so your child can see exactly what will happen on the day.

Make friends

We all know that feeling of being in a new environment with unfamiliar people. Even for adults it can be a nerve-racking experience. This is why it helps to create social connections early on. Before school starts, and in the first few weeks of school, try to organise a few play dates with other children who are starting school with your child. This way they will have a buddy and a friendly, familiar face to support them through those scary first days and weeks.

If you have a child with disability who will be starting school in the next few years and you are looking for support, get in touch with our ECEI team. To find out more about the support services Northcott offers for children with disability, click here.

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