- It is important that you establish a good routine early. Check that all items-uniform, bag - are ready for the morning. Do this in a calm fashion and don't have your child over excited or anxious when going to bed. Children take their cues from adults, so if the adult is feeling anxious or excited, the onus is on us to mask this and not show it.
- Give plenty of time in the morning for dressing, washing and eating a good breakfast. It is important that your child arrives in school before class starts because children can find it daunting walking into a class that is already in progress. It can also be disorientating because the child is going in cold and has missed out on the calming welcome routines.
- On the big day, if you are upset, don't show it. Leave the child with the teacher and tell him/her that you will be back at the appropriate time to collect. If your child is upset, trust the teacher. They have experienced this scenario countless times before. The teacher is experienced at this and knows how to comfort an anxious child. A comfort toy from home can also be useful here.
- When the child arrives to the school, he/she will meet many children. There will be familiar faces from the neighbourhood, preschool and some new faces.
- It is important that you arrive on time to collect your child from school. Children will become upset if they see other children being collected and they are left behind.
- It takes time for children to adapt to school life and routine. Don't expect too much too soon. Talk to them about what happened and allow them to respond in their own way. If you ask "What did you learn today?", you will mostly likely be told "Nothing". Most of the work at infant level is activity based and children do not understand "learning" in the same way adults do. If, however, you ask "What did you do? Did you sing? Did you draw?, you will likely have more success.
- If you feel that your child is worried about something school related, talk to the teacher. Your child will be tired coming home from school and will occasionally, sleep for an hour or so when they arrive home. It is important to set a routine of quiet time together and early to bed.
Dealing with the emotional side
- Tell them about school and let them know what will happen on their first day
- Encourage your child to talk about their fears and try your best to reassure them (See HSCL section of website)
- The first day of school will be emotional for you both, Allow your child to cry.
- Don't overstay. 5 minutes is plenty. The longer you stay, the longer the tears. Explain to your child that it is time for you to leave but you will be back to collect them when school is over.
- They will like to have their new uniform and new bag when they begin. These help them identify more readily with the school and other children.
- Ensure you are early for collection, as your child may become stressed if they do not see you when school is over.
- Getting support from other parents may be beneficial in the early day. Parents Association and Home School Liaison Coordinator will be holding coffee mornings either on site in the parents room or in a local coffee shop.
- In the event after a few weeks that your child is still not settling in, it is important to contact the school for support. A good starting point is the Home School Liaison Coordinator who can work with you in devising a plan. See HSCL section of website.
Above content based on guidance from National Parents Council and Irish National Teachers Organisation