A mother is helping her son for the first day of school.

Importance of Being Prepared for School

A new school or class can be stressful for young children, but as a parent, there are ways to support your child to make the change smoothly.

While it can be hard to adjust to a new place, it helps to have parental involvement to assure your child that he or she is not alone. Ask your child to share his or her apprehensions, feelings, and concerns.

Related: Cultivating Healthy Habits in Your Pre-school Child

Starting primary school can be daunting, as your child will not only meet new teachers and classmates but also shift from a less structured environment to one with subject-based learning and a fixed timetable.

Subsequently, when your child enters secondary school, do expect longer school hours. Secondary school students will need to give more time and commitment required for Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs).

Parenting Tips for the First Day of School

As a parent, you can make a difference by preparing your child in these areas:

1. Making Early Preparations

Parent tucking in their child in bed.

Give you and your child time to prepare. On the night before the first day of school, help your child prepare for school by packing the school bag and uniform together with him or her.

Ensure your child sleeps in early and has enough rest to start school the next day. Sticking to a fixed bedtime will help build good sleeping habits in the long run. Pick up the parenting skills you need to help your child develop these habits.

Related: Primary School Preparation—Growing Up Healthily in School

2. Read to Your Child

Father reading together with his children..

Read to and with your child, as independent reading helps build language fluency and is important for child development. Reading together is also a meaningful way to bond and build a relationship with your child. A strong command of language builds an important foundation for academic success and allows your child to avoid miscommunicating with teachers and other students.

Related: Books for Your Growing Child (Toddler and Pre-schooler)

3. Teach Them to Make Purchases

Giving money to a child. Parents may have parenting practices, but let your child learn to make purchases independently.

Your child should be able to make purchases independently. For instance, he or she should be able to place an order for food, make a payment, ensure that the correct change is received, and to return used plates and cutlery after eating. Use your own parenting style to teach them or show them how.

Related: Raising a Resilient Child

4. Choosing Healthy Food

A healthy packed lunch.

At school, rest assured that your child will have healthy food choices with the Healthy Meals in Schools Programme (HMSP). As this may be the first time your child can choose what food to buy, ask him or her to opt for healthier options, like choosing to eat fruit and nuts instead of chips for a snack.

The food choices made by your child today impacts not only current but also his or her future health, as eating habits developed during the formative years can follow your child into adulthood. As your child’s role model, you too, should be making healthy eating choices.

Related: Eat to Win in Your School Canteen

5. Going to the Toilet Independently

Teach your children how to find a toilet and other social skills.

Make sure your child knows how to find a toilet, go to the toilet independently, and if in doubt, who to ask for help. Prepare your child by encouraging them to go to public toilets on his or her own before school starts.

Related: Starting School: Preparing your child

6. Learning to Pack and Organise Things

A young girl packing her bag for the new school year.

Children need to learn how to take care of their own belongings at home and at school. Teach them how to pack and prepare for school the night before as part of their school life. This is also a good opportunity to teach habits of personal responsibility and ownership.

Related: Going to school: practical tips

7. Establishing a Routine

​​Young child sleeping in bed with a teddy bear.

Set up a school week routine which includes time for school work and rest. This can help your child learn about proper time management too. The routine does not need to be complicated. Allow your child to settle into the routine at a pace that is comfortable for him or her. Whether your child will be walking to school or taking public transport, help him or her to plan the route and go on a dry run.

Finally, should you need to check in on your child’s behaviour and progress at school, connect with the teachers. Even better, volunteer with the school during the school year. It is a great way to show your child that you take an interest in his or her education, and you may also gain a better understanding of the school environment and your child’s school activities.

As parents, your presence and support can make a whole lot of difference during your child’s transition period and will go a long way to make the school experience a pleasant and positive one.

Remember, while your child has embarked on the formal schooling journey, parents remain your child’s first and closest teachers in life.

Related: Cultivating Healthy Habits in Your Pre-school Child

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