Making the transition from carefree holiday time to the routine of school as smooth and seamless as possible can be critical in making the start of the year a positive and exciting one for young children.
The first day of school for 2018 is fast approaching and for parents of girls starting Prep or changing schools it can be a big moment in their lives while for others returning to school can throw their emotions into turmoil after a routine free holiday period.
We asked some of our expert Junior School teachers for their top tips on preparing for school.
One to two weeks out from School
Create your routine. Start establishing your daily routine and timings by adjusting your wake- up times and bed times. For example, if as a family you need your child to be up at 7am to get to school on time then begin this routine a few days out from school. *The recommended sleep amounts for Junior School students is 10 – 12 hours.
In the last few weeks of holiday do not do a big build up to school where you talk about it constantly. This is particularly important for new Prep students as by doing so you can create anxiety and stress.
Use positive language about school. Please don’t turn the teacher into your disciplinary tool. Make school a place of learning and friendship saying things such as “It is going to be fun learning new things. It’s going to be exciting to try new things and have new experiences this year. I’m looking forward to making new friends with other mums and dads.”
Practise wearing the school uniform. Wear the school shoes at home before they start school. Let your child practice getting dressed and if they want to wear the uniform during the day let them. Even if your child has been going to school in previous years it is still a good idea to wear in their shoes a little and try on the uniform especially if they have grown as it gives you time to let hems down on dresses or shorts or visit the shops!
Over the last week at home prepare as though it is already term time when doing meals. Prepare the day’s food in advance and put into the lunch box and feed your child out of the lunch box. Replicate the school timetable where possible. This is particularly good for young children to help them learn how to open their new lunch box, close them, open any boxes or containers inside and feel comfortable with where their snack is and where lunch is.
Mentone Girls’ Grammar girls in Prep – Year 6 have a fruit break at 10am for five minutes. This break is to help keep their energy up and refuel with one piece of fruit such as a banana, small apple, bunch of grapes or berries etc.
Snack time / recess is at 11.15am and students have 25 minutes. This means they have 10 minutes to eat and 15 minutes to play. We recommend parents send items such as yoghurt, cheese and crackers, muesli bar or second piece of fruit and so on. These items are easy to eat before they run off to play.
Lunch time is at 12.55pm and students have 45 minutes to eat lunch and play. Bear in mind how big your child’s hands are when making sandwiches, wraps and rolls as they will more than likely be sitting on the grass or playground and if they can’t hold it they can’t eat it.
Most schools do not have re-heating facilities or fridges so bear that in mind when preparing lunch. The classrooms at Mentone Girls’ Grammar are air-conditioned so food won’t spoil meaning ice blocks are not generally needed.
Label, label, label. Children lose items all the time so we suggest you label everything including uniform items, lunch boxes, drink bottles, snack containers, hats, shoes, and bags.
For our wonderful new Prep parents use this time before school starts to encourage acts of independence such as having them make their bed, pack their school bag or a bag for a day out, take their dishes to the kitchen, make a sandwich, prepare lunch boxes together, put away clothes, get dressed on their own, go to the bathroom on their own and so on.
Show them which container is their fruit snack, which is a snack box and which one is the lunch box. Young children can get confused and then eat all of their food at recess and have nothing for lunch.
Talk about the after-school routine with your daughter. If they are attending after school care talk about what they do there, snacks, play and what happens when you get home afterwards as it will generally be close to dinner time.
If they are not doing after school care, a quick exit and getting home as soon as possible is recommended before having a snack straight away, as most young children are tired from a busy, active day at school.
If you have reading to do teachers suggest trying to get that finished before dinner so afterwards you can relax as a family before bedtime.
First day of school and beyond…
If you have a child starting school for the first time it may be tempting to bring extended family along to celebrate the occasion. We would suggest you don’t do this and have them pick your child up from school instead. The more pressure and intensity we as adults put on the day, the greater the anxiety on your child.
Do school photos at home before you leave to take the pressure off all of you when arriving at school.
Try and ensure your daughter goes to the toilet prior to getting in the car in the morning as most will suddenly need to go as soon as they arrive at school. This is something that is good to do every day.
Children get upset when late for school – as ironic as that sounds when it has taken you forever to get them in the car! Remember to consider the other schools in the area and allow for increased traffic and reduced parking when organising your departure time and school start time. The school bell goes at 8.35am so girls can arrive from 8.10am when the playground is supervised.
For those with girls starting Prep, they begin at 9am on day one with a special assembly at 9.30am where the girls will get to ring the school bell on stage with Principal, Fran Reddan in front of their parents. It is a very exciting morning for the girls before a special pick up time of 1pm.
We hope the above tips help as you prepare for yet another exciting year of school. Above all we encourage parents to contact your daughter’s teacher if you have questions and check mConnect prior to the first day. If your daughter is starting with Mentone Girls’ Grammar this year for the first time we look forward to welcoming her and you to our school.