Over the summer holidays, your child has probably gotten into a routine that they are now comfortable with and think is the norm, especially if they are due to start school for the first time. Trying to prepare them, both physically and mentally, for this new chapter of their lives is exciting and daunting, for the both of you. But, there are some practical preparations you can do which will prepare them for this time and will help them adjust far better once they start at school.

Becoming Familiar With Their New School
In the weeks, or even months, before your child starts school, it is vital that you get them familiar with the school environment, especially if they’ve not been in one before. If your child’s school runs a transition programme, then this is something that will help the process. These are often tailored to be fun and allow children to adapt to their future new settings in a more positive way. For drop-offs and pick-ups, use a location which is recognisable, such as by a tree, gate or other landmarks which your child can spot and will know that this is where to wait for you if you are a little late.

Organise Play Dates With Other Children
Setting up play dates with other children that your child is going to start school with will make the adjusting period far easier for both of them. Building supportive friendships with other children and their families is a great way for you all to process this transition together and, although they can take time to develop, it will be well worth it in the long run. This way, your child won’t walk into an overwhelming room full of children they need to get to know.

Talk About School In A Positive Way
Rather than asking them if they are nervous about starting school, which will just make them nervous if they aren’t a little already, instead ask them positive things, such as “are you looking forward to making new friends?” or “the playground looks so much fun, doesn’t it?”. Often, if a child picks up on feelings that you have regarding a subject, then they will also mirror those feelings. School is a negative experience for a very small percentage of children, often through no fault of their own, and your child shouldn’t be starting this exciting new chapter with negative connotations about it.

Teach Self-Calming Strategies
Your child is used to you being there to help calm them down or soothe their tears, but unfortunately, you won’t be there to do that at school every time they hurt their knee or get upset. Children need to know how to calm themselves down appropriately when they are upset, so use age-appropriate and soothing strategies they can use when they are on their own at school. Things such as having a drink of water if they get frustrated, wiping their own eyes with a tissue if upset and squeezing a stress ball are all great things to show them and will help them calm down.

Remember, starting school is a big deal for children and is the start of their educational journey. During the first few weeks, expect some changes in their mood and behaviour and be sure to take it easy on them. Tiredness, mood swings and hunger are all common in children who are just starting at school as they are taking a lot in for a long period of time. Be sure to set up a routine to follow when they get home as this will help them sleep and reward any good behaviour they show in these weeks. Things such as new girls designer dresses, a fun trip out or even just their favourite tea will encourage them and let them know how well they are adjusting.

Author's Bio: 

Natalie Wilson is a freelance health and wellness writer, with a focus on children's health. When not writing, you can find her taking long walks in the countryside with her dog or browsing her nearest bookstore. You can connect with her on Twitter @NatWilson976.