It’s almost time for our little (and not so little) ones to return to school. 

Parents play a vital role in their child's education and often one of the first key activities is helping to make the first day and early time at school enjoyable. This can be an anxious time for children and parents alike but never fear, we've made it easy with our tips for starting the school year on the right foot!

Getting Ready

Starting school can often be a challenging time for young children. It's completely normal for them to experience some anxiety and hesitation. In this instance, there are a number of things we can do to assist.

If a child is showing signs of anxiety prior to commencing school, try some of the following:

-  Visit the school grounds (with permission) prior to them starting school. Walk around and point out important places such as their classroom, playground, lining up area, toilets etc. If permitted, take photographs of these places and make a social story that can be read with the child on a daily basis. This will assist them to become familiar with their new environment and routines.

- Read books about starting school such as "Franklin Goes To School", "Spot Goes To School" etc. When reading, engage in conversation and highlight the positives of school and the fun experiences they will have (making new friends, learning new things).

-  Make up a weekly timetable showing the days the child will be at school and what they will be doing each day (library, sport, music etc.). Also include after school activities and other important events.

To assist your child to settle in smoothly during the first few days, help them learn where to:
- Find their classroom
- Put their things—like school bag and hat
- Have their lunch breaks
- Meet you each day when school is finished
- Go for before and after school care—if needed

Remember to take an interest in their schooling, talk positively about school, teachers and all of the things they will learn and do. Starting school can also be overwhelming, stressful and anxious for parents too so make sure you look after yourselves. Talk to other parents who have walked the path before and ask for help if you need it.

Building Relationships

Help your child get a good start to their education by becoming an active member of the school community. The importance of a positive and collaborative relationship between teachers and parents cannot be underestimated.

Parents can assist the development of positive relationships by:

-   Meeting the teacher, but remember... The first weeks of school are extremely busy for teachers so they may not always have the time to stop and chat. Teachers use the precious time before and after school to prepare lessons and resources for their students. If you would like to chat with the teacher, ask to make a time that suits you both.

-   Sharing important information about your child with their teachers. This is particularly important for children with additional needs and/or who may have difficulty with their communication. Sharing information such as their likes and dislikes, family members etc. will allow teachers to initiate communication and tailor activities to the students interests. It is also beneficial to share information about your child's behavioural challenges, and ways in which these challenges can be successfully managed. It's best to put this information in writing so that the teachers can read it a convenient time, and refer back to it as needed.

-   Talking to other parents will allow you to stay up to date with things happening within the school community as well as present opportunities for your child to catch up with friends outside of school hours.

-   Volunteering within the school (e.g. in the tuckshop or in the classroom)

-   Reading school newsletters and notice boards

-   Attending school events like P&C/P&F meetings, fetes, open days or sporting carnivals.

Illume learning specialise in assisting students transition into school so if you require further assistance or would like to book a consultation, email admin@illumelearning.com.au

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