Scary isn't it?
How did this day come around so fast?
How is it possible that four years have gone so quickly - he's still just a baby - is he ready for this great new adventure - this life changing experience?
If you want the answer to that enormous question, you'll find all my secrets here..
In the book I reveal the following tips in full, plus many, many, others to help you make starting school a positive, pleasurable and painless experience. But here are the Top 10 especially for making sure the first day is free from tantrums and tears - for both of you.
However well prepared you are, your little one can react to excitement or fear in the way they know best! Tears. And that's just what we're trying to avoid. So let's make sure we have every eventuality covered.
The key is preparation and timing.
- It's really important that you arrive on time so that your child can settle in with all the others. Remember, they won't like to be different or to stand out from the crowd at the beginning and arriving late may make them feel insecure when everyone else looks as though they know what to do.
- Make sure you've checked the school's specific procedure for admission. This may vary considerably from school to school, so don't go by what a friend may tell you about the school her child goes to. Make your own enquiries. Having to arrive sharp at 8.45 every morning, if you're accustomed to ambling to pre-school for 9.30 may mean getting up much earlier - please make sure you give yourselves time.
- Follow the school procedure for saying goodbye, carefully, each morning, encouraging your child to join in. Always say goodbye calmly even if you are close to tears and most importantly, remind him you'll be back later. I've known children think that once they start school they have to stay there forever. So be sure to let him know that you'll collect him in time for tea.
- Keep religiously to the routine, but even if he's upset, NEVER sneak away without saying goodbye, the teacher will always be there to help and support if a child is distressed.
- Remember - if tears happen, they never last long - so don't get yourself worked up or sit at home worrying. Feel free to phone the school later in the morning; they will invariable tell you that your child is happily settled and joining in. There'll be far too much to do to waste time crying - believe me. Not many children will continue to sit on the side-lines, when they see that their friends are having so much fun.
- But don't be fooled. The sunny co-operative nature your child displays to his teacher all day, will NOT continue at home. At the end of the day he'll be cross, tired and irritable. Don't worry about this, it's quite normal. Just be patient (it'll be hard, but necessary) - things will gradually improve as the days go by and he gets used to his new way of life.
- Don't panic if he falls asleep as soon as you arrive home. It's been a very busy, challenging day - just let him be for a while. He'll come back and join the family activities when he's ready.
- Please don't bombard him with questions. For one thing he'll probably be too tired to answer them coherently and for another, he probably won't remember everything he's done, or what he had for lunch. It's often a good idea to tell him what you've been doing and he'll respond in his own way, when he's ready.
- Remember when you pick him up at the end of the day, it's a long time since lunch, so a small healthy snack on the way home will give him an energy boost.
- If he's used to after nursery activities, like swimming, gymnastics or football, consider giving them a miss for the first half term - or until he can cope with the long school day without signs of exhaustion.
And finally an important extra tip -
What about YOU?
I know from personal experience how hard it is to part with your baby. You may have been telling yourself that you'll be glad to have some peace and quiet, some time to yourself - but when the day actually comes.... it's never quite that easy.
So make sure you've got something planned.
Coffee with a friend, a trip to the hairdressers or the gym, a long awaited 'hands free' shopping trip - just something that will keep you occupied until you get used to being without your little one all day.
Remember it's a life changing experience for you too, so plan to make the day a good one - for both of you.