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5 tips for your child’s first day at school

Starting school is a huge transition in a child’s life. But you’re not alone if you’re quivering at the very thought of waving your little one goodbye at the gate. Speech and language therapist and founder at Zazi.co.nz, ZAZI HENDERSON, shares her five tips for making the process run smoother for both of you.

1. Remember: our confidence sets the tone

Children are incredibly perceptive, and they’ll know if you’re at all wobbly about the move and could start conjuring up concerns about why school might be so worrisome. Remind yourself that you’ve chosen a great school, the teachers know their stuff and your amazing child is more than capable of making this change. They’ve got this!

2. The school is ready for your child as they are

The word ‘school readiness’ is thrown about a lot and whilst, yes, there are some skills that support a child’s ability to engage with learning, the fact is that schools welcome all children at all stages of development. That’s the power of inclusion. Your teacher is trained to meet your child at their level. Don’t get hung up on comparing your child to others or start drilling the alphabet with them – your child is perfect as-is.

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3. Talk about it often

Discuss where they’ll put their bag, what they might say if they need the toilet, what might happen at lunch time, and who will collect them at the end of the day. It’s important that we sound authentic – try not to over-sell it or talk about how ‘amazing’ it will be as this could ring their little alarm bells and make them think something is afoot.

4. Welcome whatever feelings arise

Your child might tell you they feel scared or worried about school and it’ll be tempting to say “No! School will be fantastic, you’ll be fine”. Try telling them it’s OK to feel worried about a big change and that you’re there to help them. Acknowledging their feelings shows them it’s valid to feel that way – and you want to them to keep communicating honestly with you. Retell your starting school story so they can feel more prepared.

5. Allow extra time on the first day

A chaotic morning routine will only add to the trepidation for you both. Strive for a calm morning routine with minimal drama (easier said than done) until you’re both a little more familiar with the school day.

And remember – you’ve got this!

Find more stories about starting school.

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