How to make the adventure of starting school a piece of cake!
The first day at school marks the beginning of an entirely new phase in life for the whole family. Everything changes: old playmates and figures to whom they were attached at kindergarten are left behind and new friendships take their place as many new people enter the lives of the first-graders. The school routine is a big adventure and a completely different life which takes some getting used to at first.
The children aren't the only ones faced with new challenges – the parents are too. Moms and dads need to learn to let go as their kids start taking their first proper independent steps, acting on their own initiative and thinking for themselves.
Many schools offer parents' evenings in preparation for the first day at school. This is an opportunity for parents to get to know the teachers before school starts, to form a first impression of the new reference person in their child's life, and to ask any remaining questions in person.
Structure and a shared approach to organizational issues help to minimize stress in the family and rein in anxiety about the first day at school. An ordered daily routine is the key, with fixed getting-up times making (the perhaps unfamiliar phenomenon of) early rising easier and allowing time for morning grouches to feel relaxed by the time school starts.
It is nice to have breakfast together, with the food providing energy for the day ahead and the family time fueling an appetite for learning.
Timetables are not just important at school – a fixed schedule brings structure to the day and provides security, especially at times of upheaval. The home timetable may include a break, for example, after school, lunch and homework (done together), and should also allow free time for the child each day. Bedtime should be no later than 19:30 to allow first-graders enough sleep to be able to cope more easily with the new situation and all the experiences.
"Why do I have to go to school and what happens there?"
Children have lots of questions – especially before they start school. Talking about your own time at school and your own experiences will make it seem more real and less mysterious to the children. School can be great fun, but it is no picnic and can also be strenuous at times. It is no use exaggerating or downplaying emotions – honesty is the way to kindle a sense of excitement and anticipation and to help the little ones make that momentous step.
The school bag is an important and faithful companion on the path leading to the big adventure. That's why kids starting school should go with their parents to choose their first satchel and everything a first-grader needs for school. Making or choosing a goodie bag can also lighten the serious mood at the prospect of the first day at school.
Doing homework like the older kids
Setting up a desk at home can also help children look forward to starting school. The young ones can feel really grown-up like the older kids as they prepare the things they need to do their own homework in the future. Ergonomic furniture automatically helps to train upright, healthy seating posture. The kids will prefer to sit at the desk and do their first sums.
In the first weeks at school, doing homework at the dining table is allowed – provided that the children can concentrate on their work and not be distracted. First-graders in particular need the family connection to feel secure and to be able to ask for help if needed.