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PUBLISHED - 01 September, 2011
family life

Facing the first school year can be a daunting prospect for both children and their parents. There are many new experiences to deal with and changes to adapt to.

Not forgetting of course, the potential impact it can have on your own life.But with a little thinking ahead and forward planning plus some sound advice on how to tackle some of the issues that can come up, the first school year should be manageable – practically and emotionally.

Include them in the preparation

In the weeks leading up to the first year at school, you will have a bit of a shopping list: uniform, gym kit, their bag and lunchbox and stationery.Asking your child to take an active part in the preparation for school will help reinforce the idea mentally in a positive way – and give them a sense of ownership of the experience.

Top tip: consult the school beforehand to check what’s required and what’s not allowed – and don’t forget to label absolutely everything with your child’s name!

Plan the first day's journey in advance

Before the first day, walk the route to school with your child a few times (or do the drive if you are planning to give them a lift). You need to make sure you know exactly how long it will take – being late will only add to the stress of the first day. Being exact will help you plan your own day round the journey too, for example, if you are travelling on to work afterwards.

Try a walking bus

Once your child has settled in, see if there is a walking bus at their school. That’s when lots of children from the same area make the journey to school together with adult assistance. Not only is it a great way to keep kids healthy, it can help them build and cement friendships and become more confident in themselves. At The Co-operative we’ve helped schools across the UK to set up walking buses.

Be positive and reassure

The first day of school itself can be a real challenge. It’s not surprising to see tears – from the adults as well as the children. The trick is to accentuate the positive and reassure your child. Remind them that all the children is their class are going through the same thing and that it’s natural to feel nervous. But also point out the positives – it will be fun and they’ve got a class-full of new friends to make!

Drop and go!

As a parent, you may find it hard to leave your child on the first day. But it’s important that you don’t hang around too long once your child has gone into the classroom. Leave them to settle in by themselves – if there’s a problem the school will get in touch with you.

Once they’ve settled in

You’ve no doubt got high hopes for your child, but it’s important not to pressure them too much in their early years of education. Every child is different and will develop at his or her own pace, so try not to expect them to become a genius in the first year of school! Focus on praising their successes as they discover what they’re good at.

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