Professor Bob Perry from the School of Education at CSU in Albury-Wodonga is encouraging parents to use the next couple of weeks to help prepare their child socially and emotionally for starting primary school.
“Parents should be trying to make their interactions with their child about school as stress-free and fun as they can, you want your child to want to go to school,” Professor Perry said.
“The next couple of weeks are an opportunity to familiarise your child with certain elements of the school experience. For example, learning to use play equipment, talking to other school-aged children, knowing how to open their lunchbox and unwrap their lunch are all fun things parents and children can practice together.
“Keep a relaxed atmosphere in the home during the first couple of weeks of school too. Your child will be tired and possibly cranky. So tread gently, no big celebratory parties, no extra chores, lots of encouragement and enthusiasm.”
Professor Perry believes it is important for parents to be open and honest with their child and to make sure they are listening to their child’s questions and concerns.
“Take time to talk with your child about why children go to school; to learn, play, be with friends and grow up,” Professor Perry said.
“You may like to write down what you and your child hope to get out of school. Your child could draw what they will be like after a year at school, how will they be different? Encourage questioning and curiosity.
“Don’t focus on your child’s academic readiness for school, instead focus on their social and emotional wellbeing to ensure they are excited and curious about school.”
Emotions can run high for all family members in the lead up the first day and also during the first couple of weeks.
“Remember that starting school is supposed to be fun, exciting, anxious, sometimes scary, and tiring. All of these are normal,” Professor Perry said.
“Be gentle on yourself as well as. Starting school is a change for all members of the family. It is normal to be emotional at this time.”
Professor Perry also advises not to forget that first day of school photo.
“This is an exciting time for the whole family and a big milestone for your child, have fun and be enthusiastic,” Professor Perry said.
(Source: Charles Sturt University)