This is another brief post from the Secure Start Facebook post, which I considered might be of interest to followers here.
At the request of one of our regular visitors to this page, I am going to share some thoughts about preparing children for their first day of school which you may not have seen or heard of elsewhere. I am going to focus particularly on the children who are unsure about attending school for the first time. The first thing I would do is prepare a little calendar, much like an Advent Calendar, incorporating a little countdown to the first day of school and a treat for each passing day (a treat can vary from a sweet to an activity or activities your child would be excited about participating in). This will provide a sense of timing and gradual exposure to the idea of the impending first day, with the anticipated effect that your child does not feel overwhelmed on their first day. Related to this last point, I would visit the school and the school playground prior to the first day so the child has a mental image of the school. You might even take some photos of the school and the playground to attach to your calendar and, if possible, arrange to meet your child’s classroom teacher or, at least, the office staff. I would emphasize the need to acknowledge any particular worries your child has and engage with your child in some simple problem solving about actions they can perform to deal with anxiety-evoking situations (e.g. ask them “what do you think you could do to feel better if that happens” and reinforce the role of the adults at the school to take care of them). Organizing a play date with another child you know (maybe, from Kindy or ELC) who will be starting at the same school on the same day may also be beneficial. Finally, I strongly recommend that you play soothing classical music in your child’s sleeping environment, all night, every night hereafter. This will have the effect of making them less prone to anxiety in the lead-up and on the first day. An old favourite of mine is Dream Children, which was released some years ago by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. A more recent favourite with a slightly different (though no less useful) effect is Mozart for Bedtime, which is on iTunes. And, on the day, take lots of tissues for when you return to your car.