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Getting ready for school

Tanya Lancaster, Wellbeing and Counselling Services Advisor, suggests simple tips to help your child get ready to start school or go back to school after the holidays.

Happy child in a classroom

Whether your child is starting school or going back to school after the holidays, these tips will help them – and you – stay calm and happy.

"Supporting your child when they start school for the first time or after a long holiday need not be stressful," says Tanya Lancaster, Wellbeing and Counselling Services Advisor. "Taking on board these suggestions and by reacting to changes in their behaviour in a calm manner can make a big difference to the way that both you and your child cope with this transition.

"Be mindful of your feelings and reactions because the way your child sees you reacting to these changes can shape the way they learn to cope.

"Think about how you’ll manage your feelings before the event. Even if you’re feeling sad or worried, try to see your child off with a happy, confident goodbye. Planning something nice for yourself too, like coffee with a friend will also help you through this stage.

"Remember that if you or your child are having difficulty with this transition, ask for help. There are many school staff that can assist you with this and other things at school. Modelling asking for help is another proactive way of teaching your child different coping strategies."

Tanya Lancaster is Wellbeing and Counselling Services Advisor for the NSW Department of Education. She is a psychologist, former kindergarten teacher and mother to two school-age boys. She shares more tips in the following video.

Find more helpful information at Going to a public school – Primary schools.

Video transcript

Tanya Lancaster

Starting school or returning from school after a long holiday can be unsettling for some students and their parents.

I'd like to share with you a few simple tips to help make that transition a bit smoother.


Tip 1: Respond to anxiety with support.

Tanya Lancaster

Firstly it's important to remember that anxiety is a normal feeling to a new situation.

People regardless of age can feel anxious when they're facing something new.

Try to remember to keep calm and also be enthusiastic with your child about starting school. Being enthusiastic sends a message a positive message to your child that school is fun, they can cope and it'll be an exciting time.


Tip 2: Role play ‘schools’.

Tanya Lancaster

A really fun way to help prepare your child is to role play or act out 'schools.'

Let your child be the teacher and you be the student and swap roles.

It's a really fun and proactive way of talking about feelings talking about what might be coming up and who might be there to assist them.


Tip 3: Read picture books about starting school.

Tanya Lancaster

Reading picture books about starting school with your child is a lovely and comforting way to prepare them for this new stage.

If at any time you're worried or you feel that your child's not coping you can make a time to speak with your child's class teacher, your school counsellor or your school psychologist.


Tip 4: Model calm behaviour.

Tanya Lancaster

Sometimes you may be concerned when your child becomes distressed – when you leave them at school for the morning.

Remember, the way that you react to these behaviours, is the way that your child will learn to cope with these feelings.

If this does happen and your child becomes distressed remember say your goodbyes but don't stay in the area.

Staying around the classroom can give your child the impression that there's something to worry about.


Tip 5: Wind down after school.

Tanya Lancaster

Your child's ability to cope can be greatly reduced if they're feeling tired.

School is fun and requires a lot of energy so allow your child to wind down and relax after school.

Try not to fill your afternoons or evenings with too many after-school activities. Even if it is just for a term or so until they get used to the new routines.

It's going to be an exciting year for you and your child as you learn so many new things.

Welcome back to school and I'd like to wish you the very best for the year to come.

End of transcript

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