Unleash your child's greatness!

Settling Your Child into School 

Transform tears into smiles

Child's First Day Schoo

Welcome to the Child Behaviour blog- 

If your little one is about to embark on an incredible adventure, their first day of school, or moving class and the mere thought flutters your heart with excitement, nostalgia, and a dollop of anxiety; you're not alone. 

It is very hard to believe, but it is 32 years since my daughter started school. She was only just four years old, ready and eager to go. But two weeks in, she thought better of it and decided she would rather stay home with her new baby brother. 

So I know what it's like to let go of your little ones and leave the gate dearly, hoping they have a good day and come out alive. 

I can even remember crying on my first day. It is also one of the reasons I loved settling countless little three and four-year-olds into nursery school as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Today, I want to share tips I found to be the most helpful to settling children while I welcomed hundreds of children working in nurseries and schools. I hope it helps you as the big day approaches so you make it easier for your children and transform their tears into smiles.
Promise me you'll always remember: 
You're braver than you believe
stronger than you seem
smarter than you think
and loved more than you know!

 The power of rituals

Start a 'First Day of School' tradition. It could be as simple as a breakfast treat or create a goodbye ritual – a secret handshake, a particular wave, or a funny face. Keep it short, reassuring, and confident. 

These rituals create cherished memories and give your child something to look forward to amid the nerves.

I still recall how my son loved his few minutes in the kitchen with a drink and a quiet minutes with me before we left home and how he stood at the classroom door shouting, "See you at 3.30, Mom. Bless his heart.

 Dress rehearsal

You will likely be invited to an open day and have visited the school, which is helpful. 

Find out what they must do when they get to school and talk about this with them in advance. 

Familiarity breeds confidence, so do anything you can to familiarise them with what's expected. 

Having a bedtime and morning routine already in progress at least a week or so before they start is beneficial. 

Your feelings matter

Your energy is contagious. 

Your child will mirror those feelings, so be calm, excited, and positive. 

Keep the morning of the first day light joyful, even if you secretly need a box of tissues! 

You can cry after you leave them, like loads of other parents and me.

Don't make the mistake this parent made:

On a typical open morning for the new children and their parents, everyone had a chance to meet me and their new friends and play together. 

There was an amiable upbeat atmosphere to welcome the new intake.

A family attended with their gorgeous, friendly, polite, and bright little boy. He was trying to look happy and grown up in his new uniform, but you could feel his stress. His mom told me (in front of her son) how he was likely to cry; he didn't have any friends and didn't want to come to nursery as he was very nervous.

As they started the second week at nursery, he was still crying for what seemed like most of the morning, so I went to watch out for the little boy as he arrived to greet him and see what was happening.

He was sitting on his mother's lap in the cloakroom; mum was crying quietly and rocking him, clutched to her chest, saying.

"You have to go to nursery, or the Police will come and take mommy away."

I am sure you agree; it is not hard to see how this made her son nervous about coming to nursery.

After I had a quiet word with Mum, she started to think more positively about the nursery, making herself feel better.

Her behaviour changed, and she was optimistic with her son about going to the nursery, telling him to have a good time and paint her a picture while she went home to tidy up. 

This ultimately helped her son settle quickly and be more confident coming into the nursery the next day

A little piece of home

Pack a family photo or a tiny trinket in their bag. If they feel overwhelmed, this little piece of home can provide comfort, even if it needs to stay in their bag for the day.

Tears at the school gate

Tears at the school gate? They're perfectly normal. 

Don't linger if they start to cry; it seldom helps. Reassure them it is normal to feel nervous when they start something new. 

They don't know what to do, so direct them clearly. Depending on the school routine, point them toward a friendly face, such as a friend or the teacher.

For example, Some years ago, I had a new job at a nursery school, and I came across a little girl struggling to settle in. I started after the new term, but she was still routinely screaming and crying on the floor in the cloakroom a few months in. The staff just commented oh, this is what she does. 

It had become routine, and she didn't know what else to do. 

I spoke to her and explained clearly that when she came to school tomorrow, we would do things differently so that she would feel better. I clearly showed her what to do, including hanging her bag on her peg with her mummy and then sitting by me in the book corner, where we would sing a few songs. 

This transformed how she came to the nursery, and within a day or two, she came in smiling. 

So be sure to direct them clearly.

The after-party

Make the end of the day as significant as the beginning. Celebrate with their favourite snack or activity. It's a wonderful way to show you recognise and appreciate their bravery. Have a few minutes with them to just connect.

Keep talking

Each day, ask open-ended questions: "What was the best part of today?" "Who did you sit with during lunch?" These conversations keep the lines of communication open and allow you to address any concerns promptly.

Get them prepared

Play 'school' at home. Let your child be the teacher, and you be the student. It's a fantastic way for them to express how they feel about school and for you to address any anxieties indirectly.

There are countless children's books about starting school. Reading about characters experiencing the same thing can help them understand everything and learn about what is expected.

Introduce them to their new friends so they have a familiar face when they arrive at school.

Trust the process

Your child might come home with tales of new friendships or stories of feeling left out. 

Both are part of the journey. Be there to celebrate, console, and guide. Trust that with your support, they will navigate and blossom.

Remember, every child's journey is unique. While one might sprint into school with barely a backward glance, another might need a little more time to adjust. And that's okay. With your unwavering support, love, and a sprinkle of patience, they will soon find their stride.

Share this blog with other parents navigating the school maze, and let's create a community of support and love. After all, it's not just our children stepping into new classrooms; we're joining the school of parenting, where every day promises fresh lessons and abundant love.

I wish you all the best and a year filled with beautiful school memories.

When you are ready, check out the private coaching below.
Ruth Edensor

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