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How to prepare your child for starting school

In Features, Motherhood, Stories by Nicole Fuge

Navigating the emotional and practical maze of the first day of school? Here’s your ultimate guide on how to prepare your child for starting school.

By Nicole Fuge, Mama Disrupt® Managing Editor

As a fellow mum with little kids, I totally get the emotional roller coaster we go on as we prepare our tiny humans for their first big step into the world of school. I’m literally living it right now as my eldest gets ready to start Prep in a few months.

Oh, the emotions (mostly on my part!) … there’s the fear of missing them, the anxiety of whether they’ll make friends, and – let’s be honest – the slight euphoria of having a few hours to yourself each day.

Now, while you might be a pro at making sure your kiddo looks sharp AF in their new uniform, there’s a tad more to preparing them (and yourself) for the big day.


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1. Emotional Prep is a Two-way Street

Your tiny human’s probably a mix of excited, nervous, and maybe a wee bit scared. That’s totally normal. But guess what? So is that lump in your throat as you think of them stepping into a big school without you. Talk about your feelings together. Share stories from your school days – the good, the bad, and the downright hilarious. It’ll not only make you both feel more connected but also put some of those nerves to rest.

2. Story Time, Please

Who doesn’t love a good book? There are heaps of children’s books out there that talk about starting school. From adventures on the first day to making new friends, these tales can give your kid an idea of what to expect. Plus, they make for perfect bedtime stories leading up to the big day.

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3. Play School at Home

Make it a game! Grab some crayons, paper, and perhaps an old purse or bag. Let your little one play ‘student’ while you play ‘teacher’. Not only is it super fun, but it also helps them get a hang of the school routine. Bonus: You might just discover your child’s favourite subject. And hey, if you ever fancied yourself a bit of a teacher, now’s your chance!

4. A Trial Run Never Hurts

Before D-day, why not do a trial run of the entire morning routine? Set the alarm, get dressed, eat breakfast, and pretend to walk or drive to school. It helps in setting expectations and avoids chaos on the actual day. Because honestly, who needs more chaos in the morning?

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5. New Friends on the Horizon

If you can, organise playdates with other kids who’ll be in the same class or school. It’s a splendid way for your kid to have a familiar face on the first day, and for you to maybe find a new mum-friend. After all, it’s always tea-time somewhere!

6. A Special School Kit

Having a few special items just for school can make your kid look forward to it. Maybe a funky pencil case, a special water bottle or even a lunch box with their favourite character. These little tokens can provide comfort in a new environment.

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7. Have a Goodbye Ritual

A special hug, a high-five, or even a little dance – create a unique goodbye ritual that you both can look forward to. It provides a sense of security and makes parting a tad bit easier. (And let’s be honest, for those teary days, it gives you something to smile about.)

8. Trust Your Instincts

You know your child best. If they’re more apprehensive, spend some extra time reassuring them. If they’re super excited, share in their joy. And if you’re the one feeling a bit wobbly, remember, it’s okay. Every mum goes through it, and there’s no shame in shedding a tear or two (or 20).

There you have it! A little guide to get you through the beginning of this beautiful journey. Remember, starting school is a big step, but with each passing day, it becomes the new normal. Soon, you’ll be swapping stories at the school gate, laughing about misadventures, and cherishing the growth you see in your child.

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