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Ten Tips to Help Your Child Transition to School

Moving between different classrooms, and teachers, switching schools or starting school for the first time can be tough! It’s hard enough just getting used to a new environment, but when you think of having to relearn the names of your new classmates or where the bathroom is, things can get overwhelming.  

We’ve put together a few tips for parents and carers to support children to transition smoothly into their new school environment and be more confident.  While each situation is different, there are a few small things that can be done to ease the transition period and set your child up to experience success in their new routine.  

# 1 Get to know your new school 

Exploring the new environment and supporting your child to become familiar with important areas such as their classroom, how to get to the toilets, and where to store their bags can help reduce anxiety and increase their comfort level when school starts.  If you can’t access the school before school is back, jump on the school website. Many schools offer virtual tours you can watch or you may find images of the school and staff so that you have a familiar face on the first day. 

#2 Create a transition plan 

Develop a transition plan in collaboration with the school. This plan should outline specific goals, strategies, and accommodations to support your child’s transition. Regularly review and update the plan as needed, ensuring it addresses any changes or challenges. This can be done up to a term before starting school, however, it is never too late! The transition conversations continue throughout the first few weeks and provide opportunities to check in and update as your child settles in. 

If you are supported by an Everyday Independence early childhood key worker, they can help you to prepare this and discuss it with the school.  

#3 Talk about it and provide emotional support  

Starting childcare, kindergarten, school or moving up a grade is exciting!  Ask your child what they’re most excited about, tell them what you’re most excited about for them, or share your own positive experiences. Intentional, positive conversations about what will happen can ease stress while building excitement.  

Be patient and understanding during the transition process. Validate your child’s feelings and provide emotional support when they face challenges or setbacks. Celebrate their achievements and reassure them they are not alone on this journey. 

#4 Ease into the early mornings 

Take a positive step towards establishing a smooth morning routine by gradually adjusting the family sleep schedule. While this initially may be challenging, the payoff will be worth it on the first day that alarm goes off. Here’s an example of how you can structure the two-three weeks leading up to the first day, which you can adapt to suit your family’s needs.  

2 weeks prior – set alarm for 8:00 am, out of bed by 8:30 am. 

1 week prior – set alarm for 7:30 am, up and about by 8:00 am. 

The week school starts – wake up at 7:00 am to be at school for 8:30 without rushing. 

#5 Practise common routines 

Getting out of bed, having breakfast, brushing teeth, packing bags, and getting out the door within a set time can be stressful. Practising without strict deadlines can ease some anxiety for your child and other family members.   
You could run through the after-school routine, including unpacking bags, changing out of uniforms, reading/homework, and any other activities you want to become a habit.  

#6 Practise route to school 

However you choose to move, practise the way to school. Help your child to build skills to safely cross roads if walking, scootering, or biking. If taking public transport, learn the route and stops.  Remember to give a little extra time when heading out on the first day as traffic may be heavier than it is during the school holidays!  

#7 Practise wearing the uniform 

If your child is wearing a uniform for the first time, encourage them to wear it around the house to get used to the fit and feel. This includes practising wearing shoes, hats, and other required items.  Additionally, it’s important to practise applying sunscreen as part of the uniform routine, ensuring that children are confident in protecting their faces, noses, and ears from the sun. 

#8 Enjoy a packed lunch together 

If your child is new to having a lunch box, they may find the snacks and the routine of eating from their lunch box unfamiliar.  

To help them adjust, spend time practising packing a lunchbox and eating together. This gives your child the chance to practice opening their box, packets and drink bottle, but it also gives you a sneak peek into what will be a successful lunchbox snack or sandwich filler.  

#9 Communicate and collaborate with Educators and School Staff 

Establish open lines of communication with the new school or classroom staff. Share relevant information about your child’s needs, strengths, and preferences. Regularly communicate with the school to ensure everyone is on the same page and working together to support your child’s success. 

#10 Arrange peer interactions  

If possible, arrange opportunities for your child to spend time with friends making the same transition or with their future classmates. This can be done through playdates, school events, or social groups. Building connections with peers before the transition can help your child feel more comfortable and supported.  

Remember there will be tough days, great days and everything in between!  

Overall, transitioning to school and starting a new school can be difficult. There may be challenges no matter how prepared you are. That’s OK, that’s expected! Celebrate the good moments and the amazing learning your little one will be doing throughout this period.  

If you are being supported with early childhood support from Everyday Independence, your early childhood key worker can provide support for your child’s transition to school or answer any questions you have.

Want more information?

Read more about our early childhood supports and how a key worker will work with your child and family to achieve the outcomes you desire.

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