Do you have a child starting school for the first time this year? Okay big deep breaths, and relax. It can be a stressful time for child and parent, so we asked our Mykidstime parents for their top tips to make the transition to big school an easier experience for all. Here are 20 Tips for your Child Starting School:
#1. Label every article of clothing
Check semi-regularly that they are still labeled. Some of the iron-on ones come off after repeated washes and the pens can fade.
#2. Change out of uniform when they get home from school
This will really help save on washing and on wear and tear. Check for any major stains and do a quick rinse that night, rather than discovering at 8 a.m. the next morning!
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#3. Choose a lunch box & drink bottle your child can open and close themselves.
The harder type plastic lunchboxes are easier to wash and keep fresh smelling, but are not as common as the soft style. Try to pick a drink bottle that has an extra cap over the lid to save spilling.
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#4. Several small containers within the lunchbox or bag are good
For example, have one with a few crackers, one with a few grapes or tangerine segments, one with some carrot sticks, one with cut-up sandwich and a cheese stick. Or buy a lunchbox that has separate compartments.
#5. Avoid yoghurt
Avoid sending in full size yoghurts or the corner type yogurts as they take up space in the lunchbox, plus often the kids don’t have that much time to eat all their lunch and most importantly, yoghurt ends up all over their uniform. Check with your school on their yoghurt policy as some won’t allow yoghurts or frubes in.
#6. Make lunch the evening before
Make up the lunchbox the day before rather than in the morning and pop it in the fridge, you won’t feel so stressed in the mornings when you are busy trying to get everyone dressed, fed and out the door. A logistical exercise, if ever there was one!
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#7. Check their school bag every night
Check every day for school notes or invitations. Your child will forget to tell you there’s a note so make sure to ask them if they got anything from their teacher to give to you.
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#8. Put a key-ring on their school bag & coat
Even if they can read their own name, chances are there will be several children with the same brand.
Girls’ bags can have a ribbon tied on the handle to help them pick it out.
#9. Cover books
Cover books with clear film or book covering so they can still identify the book by the front cover. Label with name on the front cover, so the teacher doesn’t have to open 20 books to hand them out. Most schools keep the books in school so tell your Junior Infant this, otherwise there might be tears when the teacher “takes their books away!”
Often bookshops offer book covering free or at a reduced cost if you order so many books with them. But if you have to cover yourself, then easier to buy the ready-made covers that slip onto the book rather than the roll of covering film which is a bit fiddly.
#10. Don’t dawdle the first few days
Try not to dawdle too much dropping the kids off during their first few days of school, they pick up on Mum/Dad being upset and once one starts usually a few more will follow!
#11. Allow them time to settle
Try not to worry about “someone didn’t play with me”, they take a few weeks to settle and will change best friends around a lot in the first year. Sometimes junior infants can seem settled to start with then seem to become unsettled (maybe as the realisation hits them that this is really it!) – this is normal, don’t worry about it.
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#12. Swap phone numbers with at least one other parent
Make sure you have swapped numbers with at least one other parent so if you are running late for pickup you can contact someone to keep them until you arrive and you can do the same for them. Plus it lets you get to know other parents which is handy for arranging future play dates. Make sure you put the other parents’ phone numbers in your phone, no good to you when you are stuck in traffic and they are on the fridge!!!
#13. Take care over birthday invites
Most schools will tell you this is their policy but try to avoid the scenario of handing out birthday invitations in the schoolyard unless you are inviting the whole class! Another good reason to swap phone numbers of parents so you can do invites by text to avoid upsetting any kids that are not invited.
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#14. Colouring pencils
Buy Crayola “Twistables” or discount stores/supermarkets have their own brands called “twisties”. The pencils dont need sharpening, can be bought in packets of 10 or 15 colours and are safe non-toxic, they last for ages and are are allowed in schools unlike markers. Label each one though with child’s name.
#15. Separate big from little
Separate out “little” lunch from big lunch. Kids often eat the whole lot at early break and have nothing left for real lunch/big break, so make sure your child know what they have for each break.
#16. Park away from school
If driving, allow time to park a little way from school and walk in. This will help you avoid the parking melee at school gates. It will also give you a few minutes of exercise together in the morning.
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#17. Label everything
Label everything including pencil cases, pencils, rubbers, etc, even using permanent marker on colouring pencils. Kids never keep track of who has borrowed what. It will help avoid disputes as well.
#18. Blowing their nose
Use the summer to teach them how to blow and wipe their own nose in a tissue, not on their sleeve. (And while you’re at it teach them how to clean their bum by themselves!)
#19. Buy tights in a bigger size
For girls, buy tights a size bigger as they are easier to put on especially when you are in the morning rush.
#20. Realise that you know nothing
Be prepared to realise that you know nothing and their new teacher knows everything! (even if you feel you could be said teacher’s mother!!)
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Do you have a tip for a parent of a child starting school? Share it in the comments below.