Finding out what primary school your child is due to attend is a huge milestone in a young person’s development and can feel very scary for a parent. It signifies that your baby is growing up and becoming increasingly independent. This can be daunting at the best of times, but during a global pandemic, when we are living in a world of uncertainty at present, this might feel incredibly anxiety provoking. Here are a few tips on how to manage that anxiety.
1) Firstly, let’s remember, your child has never started school before. They have no experience or expectations around what starting school means. In contrast, as a parent, you have probably created many expectations around how this should feel, based on your own experiences and the experiences of others. Whilst you are most likely worrying about how your child is going to cope, take a minute to recognise your own anxiety as separate from that of your child. You may realise your child has very few worries of their own at all!
2) Whether your child has previously attended that school’s nursery, another nursery or has been at home until now, they will have had the opportunity to interact with other children and develop basic friendships. Again, reflect upon these friendships and the social skills that your child has learnt through these – this is what’s going to support them during those first few weeks of school. These friendships won’t just help your child, but they can also help you. Use this support network as reassurance for yourself by speaking with other parents. Discuss their worries and share your own. You’re all in the same situation and it’s likely that you’re all wondering about the same things.
3) Right now, schools are also holding the upcoming transitions in mind. As we live through unknown and unprecedented times, teachers are working hard to support their school communities. Whilst buildings may be shut, the message is clear that schools remain open, functioning organisations. This means that lots of work will be going into planning as smooth a transition as possible for all children, including new intakes. The internet is great for staying connected whilst we are physically distanced. Keep an eye on your child’s school’s website for updates but also check out any Facebook and Twitter pages they may have for posts inviting new parents to connect. Whilst you can’t visit the school in person, exploring their website, looking at photos of the classroom, dining hall and playground can also help your child prepare for the next chapter in their lives. Equally, familiarising themselves with the name and appearance of their class teacher will help bring the abstract concept of transition into reality for them.
4) There are also things you can be doing independently of the school. If the school is local, you could consider walking past it during your daily exercise. Practicing putting on the school uniform is also a great activity for introducing a child to their upcoming transition and also improving their fine motor skills, coordination and self-help skills ready for PE lessons! If you know of other children attending the same school, forming connections (albeit virtually) with them could also help bridge the gap between now and September.
Whilst there are many things that remain uncertain about September transitions, there are some things that will remain familiar to us, so use the time you have now to focus on the things you do feel sure of in order to contain your own anxiety as well as supporting your child through a very exciting milestone within their development.