I remember getting really quite sad in the middle of the summer holidays as a child when I saw all the hundreds of back to school signs everywhere. Of course now I have children I view them differently, a little sad as I will miss my munchkins, a little relieved as I will have some time to myself again and quite a lot worried as, as usual, I have got nothing prepared!
This year my eldest will be going in to year 1 and my second will be starting preschool and going three mornings a week. My eldest is excited to be going back but number 2 is a little more concerned so we are planning on making the whole thing as gentle and fun as possible.
I needed firstly to prepare myself! Watching your children grow up is wonderful but its also tinged with sadness as you know that they are not going to remain little forever and will carry on growing up, making big changes and gradually become independent from you. All this is wonderful of course and there are some days I cant wait for them all to be out of the house but it is a mixed bag of emotions being a parent!
Obviously we know the school when but before our eldest stared there we visited the school a few times with them. We met their teacher, looked around the classroom and made sure he was familiar with the places he would hang his coat, eat his lunch etc. This was really important as he would be able to know what to do straight away and feel more comfortable. He loved his classroom right away and I could see he felt very grown up having his own peg where he would hang his coat and bag.
It helped me to see how excited he was as I knew that he would enjoy himself and have fun so I neednt worry too much. I was going to miss him, more than he missed me!
Something I always recommend is using stories as a teaching aid. In the summer before he started school we bought several books about first days at school. Books we read a lot were First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg, First Day by Andrew Daddo and Jonathan Bentley and Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark. Just as a side note we love love love the blue kangaroo books in our house! By reading these books we had something to fall back on so whenever he was feeling a bit nervous I could ask do you have the jitters? and this would make us both giggle as we remember the story. I think it is always nice to feel that you are not alone in first day nerves so if you know some of your favourite characters in books also feel like you do then it gives you that security.
Lastly we went on a special shopping trip just for him and this will be something I will be doing with number 2 as well. I made the whole shop about him, we didnt go in to any mummy shops and we bought his new uniform, a new bag and all the bits and pieces you need for school including a lunch box, stationary, shoes and a coat. He loved doing this and loved his lunch box so much he even took it to bed with him that night! This was a great way to prepare because we were able to talk a lot about what he would be doing at school.
After the uniform was bought I was able to sew his name in to everything (yes everything) I even wrote his name in his shoes in pen, I also drew half a smiley face in both shoes so he knew which foot each shoe goes on. This was not only for my benefit as I would rather not replace things but also having his name in everything gave him that bit of confidence that he would always know which coat and which jumper was his.
Obviously there is only so much you can do and even the best prepared mums and dads can still have jitters on the day but be confident, smile lots and plan to have their favourite meal that night so you can all talk about their exciting first day at school!