I ran a Montessori Nursery School from my home for 7 years and we had capacity for 24 children at any time so as some children did half days and others 3 days we actually had many more than 24 on the register at any one time. Therefore I regularly experienced this ‘first day’ situation and at a younger age of course than those of you whose children are starting Primary School although the age has been reduced of course down to four years old. At the time I ran the Nursery School they started at 5.
So what top tips can I give you?
1. BE POSITIVE - If you feel positive then so will they. This day without them for the first time is an opportunity for you as well. You can do something you don’t normally have time to do perhaps and this is going to be exciting for you too. I’ve heard lots of Mums joke that they don’t know what to do with themselves and that they will worry all day but this puts a huge pressure on your child if they think this will happen. They need to know that you can enjoy the day without them as you want them to enjoy it without you.
2. IT WILL BE FUN - Put yourself into their shoes. Think about the school, the facilities, the staff you’ve met, children you know who are going there, what do you think your child will enjoy? Perhaps there is a home corner, great collection of Lego, computers, art and craft. Focus on the things they will like and how you will look forward to hearing all about it.
3. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT - Prepare them in advance for potential awkward moments like asking to go to the toilet. Get them to practice at a friend’s house or local café. They may be worried about using the handle or lock on the door so help them by showing them how to do it themselves. They can also practice doing up their shoes and coat, taking them off and doing up buttons on trousers and skirts.
4. VISUALISE - Your child will feel overwhelmed and anxious at some point on their first day and their teacher will expect this and have planned fun activities to distract them from and introduce them to the other children in their class. You can also help them by teaching them to visualise. Show them how by looking up and to the right they can imagine seeing you at the end of the day and telling you all about what they’ve done, show you their picture or where they sit, who they’ve played with. You can do the same to visualise how happy you will be to see your child at the end of the day and tell them what you’ve done.
5. MAKING FRIENDS - Your child will make friends, of that there is no doubt. Their friends will change every day as well! Be prepared for new best friends and learn their names so you can invite them home to play, possibly not the first week as they will be quite tired but gradually start some play dates to enable them to build friendships. You can help them make friends by making new friends yourself. The other mums at the school gates will be around for many years so show your child how to make new friends by saying hello to a different one every day and building up your own network. You already have lots in common.
Judy Bartkowiak is the author of ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’ and a number of other NLP titles. She is an NLP Trainer and Parent and Child coach in Maidenhead, Berkshire. Call 01628 660618 or email firstname.lastname@example.org