Preparing for the first day of school

To get your children ready for school, start preparing a few months before they start:

  • Visit the school several times with your child.
  • Organise some days with friends when your child can get used to being separated from you.
  • Encourage them to be able to tell someone their name, address and phone number.
  • Teach them to put things away after finishing an activity.
  • Teach them to tie and untie their shoelaces and buckle/unbuckle their shoes.
  • Let them practise putting on and taking off their outer clothing – raincoat, jumper, shoes and socks.
  • Invite their friends over for a pretend school day, when they can have lunch outside from their lunch box, play ball games, and sit and draw.
  • Buy their school bag well in advance, so that they can practise packing and unpacking their lunch box, raincoat, etc.
  • Show them how to cough or sneeze in to the crook of their arm.
  • Make sure they can flush the toilet and wash their hands by themselves. (Check for soap and paper in the school toilets.)
  • Make sure they know how to open their drink bottle.

Handy hints for the first year of school:

  • Mark with a pen or label all items of clothing, lunchboxes, etc. Try to make schoolbags and lunchboxes distinctive in some way, as they will need to be able to recognise them.
  • Be cheerful when you leave them each morning, and don’t linger too long.
  • Be on time when taking them to school and picking them up – they get upset if you are late.
  • Take a little time at the end of each day to listen to your child, talk about their day, and admire what they bring home.
  • Children are often tired after school, especially in the first few months, so dinner should be early. Try to prepare a meal the night before if you are working. Bedtime should be about 7.30 pm.
  • Get involved in school activities if you can afford the time.


This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot New Zealand.

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