If you are a super-parent, by the last day in August you have everything ready for the new school year. If your child is attending school for the first time, you have definitely gone overboard buying everything your child needs, two or maybe three of every item. It’s definitely an exciting time for your child who is excited about the new school or the new school year. Not so much for you because of all the early morning wake up calls and if you are shy, meeting new people!
Fast forward to the first day of school, your child looks spruce, well ironed clothes/uniforms with clean shoes, with school bag and lunch box, but are they ready for the challenge ahead? They look confident on the outside but are they ready on the inside? As parents we want the best for our children. We may even have flashbacks to our first day of school and remember how much we loved it or in my case, hated it.
I remember walking up to a group of girls and asking if I could play with them…the ringleader said No. Over 35years later I cannot forget. Be mindful that what children want the most is to make friends, even you too parent. Our children will encounter these scenarios and others but there is a way we can help prepare our children for that all and more. How can we do this?
Let’s try to RSVP (Not Rice and Stew Very Plenty)!
If your child is attending a new school, it may be a good idea to tour the grounds with your child. Let your child sit in the class they will be learning in, let them play in the playground and even meet some staff of the school. If you are unable to go to the school, get information on the school off the Internet or the school website.
Once you have the research, study the material. Point out the interesting information about the school to your child. If it’s a legacy school, tell your child about other members of the family who attended the school. It’s even better if famous people have also attended the school or talk about past students who have gone on to achieve greatness.
This is where role playing comes in. Set up a pseudo class room and you act as the teacher. Get your child to act out how they will walk in to school, into their class, smile, say hello to teachers and other students. Encourage them to think of questions they will ask the teacher and how to ask the questions for example raising your hand first and then speaking after being acknowledged. Magic words such as May I (?), Please and Thank You come into play here. What happens if they are denied something…ask if they will roll about on the floor, kicking and screaming? This is also useful for parents, practise your conversation points for example after saying hello you may want to ask how the parent heard of the school. Friendships you form in school can be very beneficial to you and directly impact on the quality of child’s experience in the school. Teach you child and even yourself to be the first to walk up and say hello to others. That’s the true mark of leadership.
Get your child to help pick out their clothes for school, pack their own lunch and even set the alarm for the next day. They may even want to pick out the music for the ride to school. It’s even better if they went school supply shopping with you. If you have purchased embroidered name tags put those on your child’s things. Get your child to put peel off and apply sticky name tags on other items such as pencil cases and water bottles. A marker pen would do just as well. Remind them how precious they are, let them know no one has the right to bully them or make them feel less than smart. They are in school to make mistakes and learn.
Finally, on that very crucial first day of school, let your child stand out by sending a small gift to their teacher. Examples are a small cake, a figurine, flowers or fruit. Nothing ostentatious but small and tasteful. It cements your child in the teacher’s mind.
As our precious one’s start a new school year, I wish them every success.
Founder of Manners Matter
Author of Going Away for School