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Back to School: Who's more nervous?

Being nervous on the first day of school is perfectly normal (for both kids and parents!) it’s a big life event and even children who are very excited may still experience nerves. There are few things you can do to help with these nerves and to make the whole experience less daunting than it might seem.

Children:

  1. Talk positively to your child about starting school, as well as listening to and acknowledging any anxious feelings or fears they may have
  2. Try not to show your children that you are nervous or worried about their first day, children take the lead from you when dealing with new situations.
  3. Talk positively to your child about starting school, as well as listening to and acknowledging any anxious feelings or fears they may have
  4. Similarly prepare them with the skills they will need when starting school. For more information see our Back to School: Are you ready? guide.
  5. If you sense your child will feel clingy and not want to leave you in fear they will miss out, let them know what you have planned for the day – the duller the better!
  6. Talk to your child about what they can expect from their day, the types of things they will be doing and how much fun they will have, children will be able to deal with new situations better if they have an idea of the process, it's the unknown that can be most scary.
  7. Make sure to remind them that their nerves are natural and almost all the children will be going through the same feelings.
  8. Encourage them to make friends. There really is no better sight than seeing your child come skipping out of school to tell you all about the new friend they made.
  9. Take time to tell your child about your first day at school or funny and light stories about your time at school so they start to get a light-hearted sense of what to expect.
  10. Try reading them a story about the first day of school. You can find out more on our Back to School: Are you ready? guide

Topics for conversation and things your child may be nervous about:

  • Will I make friends?
  • Will the teacher be nice?
  • What if I don't like it?
  • What if I need help/going to the toilet?
  • What if I want to come home/I miss you?

Parents:

Without a doubt you will be nervous on your child's first day of school. We asked parents what issues made them nervous about their child's first day of school, some common concerns were:

  • How would their child cope away from home?
  • Would their child be happy and well cared for?
  • They are too little to be starting school.
  • What if their children feel sad or hurt themselves? What would the school do?
  • Will their children behave?
  • Have they prepared their children enough for school?
  • Will they eat ok?
  • Will they make friends?

How to calm these nerves?

Schools will be just as well prepared to deal with nervous parents as they are to deal with nervous children.

  1. There will usually be settling in session that allows parents to stay in the classroom for a while or taster sessions for the children.
  2. Make sure you attend as many of the meetings provided for parents as possible these can be a great way to meet the other parents, the teachers and you will get a chance to ask any questions you may have.
  3. Take the time to ask about the school day, what your child will be doing during their first days, how the school day is timetabled; this really helps during your first few days without them. Not knowing what they're doing without you can be one of the biggest factors making you nervous.  
  4. A few days before their first day spend some time getting things ready, the last thing you want is a frantic morning rush on the first day coupled with nervous children and nervous parent, it’s a recipe for disaster. Getting things ready early can help you to start to get used the idea of them being at school, obviously as time goes on you'll settle into some kind of routine and getting ready for school will become a typical morning rush.
  5. On the morning of their first day try arriving a bit earlier than normal so you've got time to help them settle in, but it also helps so you can take your time to find the right gate, their classroom etc.

Most importantly enjoy this time, it's a big life event for every child and a day you will always remember. And even if nothing goes to plan and you forget everything just make sure you take a picture of your little on in their new uniform on the morning of their first day. 

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