Top tips to help your child on their first day at school

For many relocating families, children start new schools, not just in September, but in the middle of the school year. Starting a new school can be scary – a bit like the first day in a new job for adults:  the unfamiliar building, the new routine and lots of people who all seem super confident and in the know. But it is even more scary starting a new school in an unfamiliar country. You can help your child make the new start as smooth as possible with these easy tips:

School visit

  • Visit the school with your child before he or she starts there. This can help take away the first day nerves.
  • Find out what compulsory items you need to buy before school starts- there may be a compulsory school uniform. If uniform is not compulsory, then your child will definitely need a PE kit.  Some schools provide all stationary- others will require you to buy your own.
  • Notice what the current pupils are wearing and carrying: Most kids don’t want to stand out from the crowd. For your older kids, especially, fitting in is vital.  I speak from experience, having bought a small PE bag for my eldest daughter when all her peers were carrying huge tennis style PE bags.
  • Ask what will be needed on their first day of school. It’s important to be prepared.
  • Make the journey to school a few times so you and your child know the route to and from school.

On that important first day

  • Get the school bag ready the previous evening– this avoids a stressful scramble to get out of the door on time in the morning.
  • Try to avoid being late. Your child will feel self- conscious being the new kid at school- being late will make them feel worse.
  • Keep calm and provide as much support as you can- If your child is anxious, it’s hard for them to manage your anxiety as well. Tell them that you understand starting a new school is challenging- especially if they are starting in the middle of the school term.
  • Don’t linger at the school gate With older children,- this is a definite ‘no’!
  • Try to hook up with other parents Forming friendships with other parents yourself can really help both you and your child get to know the school culture and feel part of the local community.

The first few weeks of a new school will be emotional for both your child and yourself. There will be a lot of settling in, exploring new friendships, getting used to a new routine and if you have relocated, getting used to a new country as well.  It’s important to ‘be there’ for your child and try not to intervene too much.