You know that buzz you get at the beginning of a new school year? Coming off summer holidays, relaxed and refreshed and ready to get back into the school groove! And then there’s the amplified feels for kiddies and their folks that are starting preschool or primary school for the first time. Yikes!
It’s a milestone to be celebrated and memories that you’ll never forget. It’s the start of an exciting new phase of life for these littlies and you’ll soon notice how quickly they learn, grow and assert their independence.
Those early days can, no doubt, be daunting for some. Parents included! There’s the morning shuffle, peak hour traffic, new routines, not to mention school gate tears and anxiety, plus over-tiredness and lost school jackets that accompany it all during those first few weeks of settling into school.
Check out our list of 10 tips to prep your kids to begin pre-school or primary school in 2022.
1. journey together
Have a few practice runs of the trip to and from school so you can familiarise yourself and your kids with the route, and how long the drive/ bike ride/scoot or walk will take.
There’s nothing more anxiety-rising than being late and having to dash to school and rush through your farewells on the first day.
Hot tip: Have a playlist or favourite song on the ready for the car journey, or play eye spy as you walk to school so kids start to make enjoyable and positive memories of the journey to school every day (and forget about the butterflies wreaking havoc in their tummies!)
2. take a visit
If you connected with some of the folks at orientation or if you know some neighbourhood kids also attending the same school, it’s a good idea to set up some playdates at or near the school grounds in the holidays.
This gives kids the opportunity to familiarise themselves with some friendly faces, as well as the all-important playgrounds, drinking taps, toilets, the main office etc.
It’s also a good chance to identify the various entrances to the school. Preschools usually only have one, but primary schools often have a few entrances so it’s good to familiarise yourself and your kids with the one that suits you best.
3. picnic time
One really great way to prepare for back to school is to have a picnic on school grounds, where possible, otherwise nearby is okay too! Pack a variety of healthy snacks and make a family day out of it.
If you’ve already purchased lunchbags, lunchboxes and drink bottles for school, it’s a great time to give them a trial run. Get your kids used to carrying, opening and closing their own bags and boxes and filling/re-filling their drink bottles so they’ll be confident in their ability when school starts.
Our lunchbox, mini lunch box and snack box are great options for lunchtime and accommodate big and small appetites, while our insulated lunch bags will ensure your kid’s lunch stays fresh throughout the school day.
4. farewell fun
Invent a fun routine to make saying goodbye that little bit easier on the first week of school – try a high-low side five combo, a crazy handshake or secret affirmation.
You’ll be surprised how many kids don’t need this after the first few weeks but it’s still nice to have something in place, just in case back to school nerves get the better of them.
Another little touch of fun is to leave affirmation notes in their lunchboxes. It’s a small yet thoughtful way to show little ones just how loved they are, and to remind them that even when they are in a new environment – family and familiarity is never far away (try not to tear up and smudge your affirmation at this stage!)
5. positive reinforcements
Talk positively about back to school in the lead up and particularly on the first day. Talk about your experiences at school – kids love hearing about the good ol’ days (for now anyway!) Remind your child where you’ll be at pick-up time and what to do if you’re running late etc.
Most preschool and primary school kids will have teachers and carers looking out for them until you arrive but for peace of mind, ask your child’s teacher what their specific school policy is.
6. short and sweet
Long goodbyes can be upsetting for littlies, especially if other kids are getting emotional too. Once your child is settled into their classroom on school mornings, give them some positive re-assurance and make your exit (then repeat to yourself, “they’re fine, I’m fine, we’re all fine!”)
No doubt you’ll be feeling lots of feels too and kids can pick up on your emotions so play it cool, folks!
7. keep it simple at the start
Try to limit after-school activities during the first couple of weeks. The transition to school can be extremely tiring for little newbies and while kids are still getting used to their new routine, they’ll likely need some downtime after the long school day.
Keeping kids hydrated can help too. Explore the b.box range of drink bottles. There is something for everyone!
8. check in
Whilst we want to ask our kids a lot of questions (how was your day, what did you learn, did you have enough snacks, who did you play with, and so on and on) it’s important not to overwhelm them with a barrage!
Just a simple ‘how are you feeling today?’ gives kids an opportunity to talk to you open-endedly about their feelings and their day. Some may want to talk, others may prefer not too – and a lot of the time you’ll get the old ‘I don’t know!’
A great tool to use is a mood or how am I feeling chart to open the discussion and give kids a chance to express their thoughts and feelings, using pictures rather than words that they may not yet be able to articulate.
A new school year is a big deal for littlies and their grown-ups alike. Lead the way by identifying your feelings too.
9. share the joy
Schedule some family time or a video call from grandparents (or other significant relatives/ friends) on the weekend to mark the milestone after the first week. Starting school is a big deal and extended families and friends love being a part of it.
This also give your child the opportunity to talk about their experience with others, further supporting their confidence and positivity.
10. celebrate the wins
Not every transition to school will be an immediate win but it is essential to keep a positive spirit and celebrate small successes.
You can use milestone boards to celebrate first days, first weeks, the end of first term etc.
You can introduce weekly/monthly treats like an ice-cream date, pizza night or movie night. Or simply lots of cuddles, positive reinforcement and special story time before bed.
Above all, preparing for back to school requires patience, love and understanding to help the transition run as smoothly as possible.
It’s going to be a great year, with new opportunities for fun, friendship and learning. Enjoy every moment.