We know so many little ones starting school this year - so we thought we'd share our personal tips and tricks for getting them (and you!) through. Even if your child has been in daycare or preschool, school can be a big adjustment due to the structure and formalities, but hopefully some of these ideas will help make the transition as smooth as possible.
First year teachers are absolute pros at handling first day nerves, and hopefully you've had a chance to meet the teacher and see the classroom before the big day arrives, but if nerves are still an issue - try this. Draw a small heart on your hand and on the hand of your little one (you could even get them to draw them) and explain to your little one that you'll be pressing the heart throughout the day to send them love, and if they get worried or sad, they can send you love too. Simple, sweet and (from experience) effective.
Even the most seasoned campaigners can come unstuck with toilet training at school - not only are the expectations changing that they will begin going during set times - they're also in a new environment with new people. Fortunately for most kids, they get the hang of this one pretty quickly, but for your peace of mind you could always throw some spare underwear and shorts in a wet bag and pop it in their school bag.
(Another thing to watch out for is their need to go to the toilet straight after school, some kids hold it in all day so they don't miss out on playtime - it's always a good idea to check if they need to go to the toilet at school before you get into the car to leave. We did our fair share of 'bush wees' during the first year!)
It will probably come as no surprise to you, that after a huge day of learning and playing, your little one will come home STARVING! At one point in our journey, I even started considering having dinner at 4pm, and then a snack later in the evening. You could definitely take this approach, but my main advice would be to have an afternoon snack ready to go - whether you take it with you for them to eat in the car, or have it out for when they get home - I almost guarantee your kids will demolish it. Another pro tip - make sure your child can open their own lunchbox and drink bottle, you can practice by spending time before school starts having family picnics.
After school meltdowns -
When your little ones go to school, you will get a lot more hours to yourself in the day, but it's likely that you'll also have to work 3 times as hard from the time you pick them up until they fall asleep. The first tip is to make that time 'phone down' time - especially during the first term while everyone is adjusting to the new norm. The second tip (which is very on brand!) is to have a sensory play set up ready to go for after school, this will give them time and space to process those big emotions, and also give you a chance to talk over the day. If you find you don't have time to set something up during the day, another great idea is to head out into nature straight from school - whether this be a playground, park or even your backyard - moving their body is a great way to get out any post school energy.
Don't forget about yourself! Make sure you plan something nice for yourself on your little ones first day of school - whether it be a quick coffee with friends or a well overdue hair appointment - you'll need time and space to process the day too.
TLDR? Here are our tips wrapped up -
- Pack LOTS of snacks
- Consider switching afternoon tea for dinner
- Practice using lunchboxes and drink bottles by having family picnics before school starts
- Kids toileting may regress, but it won't last long
- Feel free to pack some spare underwear in a wet bag
- Ask kids if they need to go to the toilet before you leave
- Have a plan for if kids are nervous
- Set up some sensory play for after school OR get out in nature to help process big emotions
- Plan something nice for yourself