Ask the Teacher! Your First Day at School Questions Answered. Part 2

Should be talk much about starting school this week?

Do not overemphasise “starting school”. Talking too much about school can backfire and result in your child worrying more. Try to keep chats short and pithy. If you did not particularly enjoy school yourself make a conscious effort to be extra positive about it!

Explain to your child that Miss X will take care of him/her. She will tell you when it is lunchtime, where to hang your coat and everything else that you need to know. If you need something to raise your hand. Remember to raise your hand and ask if you need to go to the toilet.*

Specify very clearly who will be collecting your child at home time and try not to change it for the first few days. Also, be early for collection time. A child who has been happy all day will panic if their carer is running late. Remember that most schools have an earlier finishing time for the first few weeks.

*This may be an important point to stress as children may have been able to just go to the one in pre-school without asking. Generally as the year progresses this will happen in school to. There will probable be a toilet pass system.


What should we be doing now? School is only a few days away!

Establish a good routine that will see you through the year. Start putting your child to bed a little earlier. Wake him/her in the morning at what will become his/her normal getting up for school time. Encourage independence in tasks such as putting on his/her coat, opening the tinfoil on lunches etc. Oh yeah cling film is a nightmare! Children really struggle to open it.


Do you have any other tips?

Come bearing a snack at home time. Sometimes children do not eat much the first day or two at school. There is so much going on and they are probably too busy chatting to the person beside them to eat! Either way, children are famished at home time.

Do not plan too much for after school. Now is not the time to start swim class and dance even though September is the start date for many of these things.  Allow your child some downtime to relax and energise. Starting school is enough change for a small child to contend with. Certainly keep on favourite activities but hold off on starting new ones.

Expect your child to be tired. He/she may even sleep on the way home in the car. It has been a big day! In fact, tiredness and the tears that go with it should not be discounted. Lots of children are fine for the first few days and then “bang” the tears start and he/she doesn’t want to go to school! This is the very reason that Junior Infants start on a shorter day.  Children are only able for small amounts of school as it is new and all the activities and “newness” tires them out. I know that early collection can be frustrating to parents who feel that they have only just dropped them off and are turning the car around again to go back. Don’t be surprised if your child if emotional and clingy later in the week. It is probably just tiredness. Your child is being challenge on every level in school; physically, emotionally and cognitively, until they become used to the routine of school it will be tiring.

Do not over stress the “first day”. It might sound crazy but children who are settled on Day 1 often cry on Day 2 as they were not expecting to be brought to school again. Nobody said anything about the 2nd day! Simple talk about “going to school” rather than “the first day”.

Anticipate a possible “speed wobbly” after the first weekend. Children perception of time is such that the weekend can seem a lot longer to them. School has become a distant memory. He/she has settled into a home routine and is reluctant to return to school. Don’t worry, this is completely normal. Your child’s teacher will be anticipating this! Revert to the “first day” talk that I have mentioned in Part 1 of this series. Be confident, calm and reassuring. School will be fun, you will be fine, and X will collect you at home time.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


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