You’ve gone for your child’s P-school orientation, and gotten a book list and a uniform/shoe order. Maybe your child is excited, maybe they’re a little fearful — reassure them, tell them stories about the fun you had with your friends (and don’t scare them with scary stories of the Demon Teacher who Smacked Your Hands).
1. Make sure your child can go to the toilet and pee and poop. Practise asking, “Teacher, I need to go to the toilet”, as well as how to check that they have all their clothes in place. Remind your child how to wash their hands after each loo visit.
2. Run through with your child the following information:
- their name and address (and check that the name tag is pinned on the uniform)
- your name and phone number, your spouse’s name and phone number
- if possible, a grandparent’s contacts
3. Rehearse their school timetable (if you already have it). Check that they know to show you the school handbook/log book/notebook every day after school to see the teacher’s notes about tasks and needs for classes, and queries about your child.
4. Make sure there are labels on his/her belongings — yes, write on the eraser, label the pencils, put a tag on the wallet/coin purse (if you can, buy a cheap elastic chain to fasten the purse to their belt).
5. Verify that your child can reliably tell the time by analogue and digital clocks; and that they understand lockers — make sure they have a padlock for use on their school locker and that they can easily open and close it with their code.
6. Pack “school money” — you will have decided how much money to give them for school lunch/recess and check that they know how to queue up, buy food and get change in return. This “school money” may need to incorporate an emergency stash for accidents (dropped tray of food, spilled drink). Make sure that your child knows they can bring a granola bar that is not candy, or piece of fruit (and how to check that the fruit isn’t squished or rotten). Go over basic vending-machine behaviour (collecting change, collecting snack/drink, and not trying to smack the glass if something goes wrong).
7. Clean and dry out their water bottle (also check the label). Check all school supplies — books, folder for worksheets, pencils, eraser, small ruler, small comfort toy. Double-check the uniform, socks and shoes.
8. Talk with your child about the programme for Going to School, rehearse it the night before, and take a photo of them all togged out! This will save time on The First Day because you can expect a time crunch in the morning.
9. Put them to bed in plenty of time to get enough sleep. You know your child and their patterns…
10. The First Day: Let them go. And make sure you use loads of sunblock because we know many of you are going to spend hours standing outside the school…