When the little ones enter the first grade of school, what should the parents do so that the child gets organized and can fulfill this new stage?

The entrance to the school generates many mixed feelings for both parents and children at home. They may feel joy and excitement as well as suddenly experience moments of nostalgia and concern for the new changes.

How can we help our children to be positive in the face of the new stage in school?

Typical reactions include crying and attachment to the parent in order not to stay in the school. Despite the fact that the child is enthusiastically preparing his materials during the days before the school year starts on the day when they must start school and enter the centre, he cries and does not want his parents to abandon him .

Generally, the schools help to make the adaptation process easy and pleasant for the family, however, much will depend on the management that the family makes to facilitate or complicate the new stage that is about to begin.

Some tips to make the new reality easier for children

Therefore, we consider it important to provide a series of recommendations to help them in this great step without generating major fears in the little ones and, above all, to serve as a guide for the parents:

1. If possible, allow the child to get to know (15 days in advance) the educational centre (including the classroom) in which he/she will receive lessons, as well as the teacher.

2. One week before the start of the school day, start getting the child up at a time close to the time he/she will have to do so in class , so that he/she gets used to it. During the first week and because of the excitement they get from going to school, the children often do this without any problem, but once the first week has passed they start to have problems in this respect. Children require approximately eight hours a day to rest.

3. Keep at home, in a visible place, a big planner or calendar where to write down the tasks , works and commitments to be done per day, using drawings or stickers so that the child can identify it.

4. From three months before the start of school, homework must be assigned according to age , so that when he is at school he can assume the duties assigned by the teaching team. It is also advisable to have home schedules for meals, snacks, games, breaks and completion of such duties, etc.

5. Establish from the first week a daily study routine to fulfill the tasks ; even when not in exams it is important to review, for a time not exceeding thirty minutes a day. It is important that the child rests, eats, and then does the homework.

6. Label the materials before the beginning of the school period , with the child’s name and indicate the importance of taking care of them and keeping them in their proper place, as well as the consequences in case they are frequently lost.

7. Cultivate in the child the routine of preparing his/her materials and belongings for school , starting with cleaning the shoes (activity that can be carried out together with the father when he is preparing his own clothes), preparing the briefcase with the notebooks, in such a way that it is not the parents who take responsibility for this task. It is important to have the materials ready the day before to make sure you have everything you need.

8. To help him/her with the previous point, the parent can write down the materials (extras) that he/she is being asked for at school and then attend together (parent and child) to get them or make them if necessary, but always making it clear to the child that it is his/her responsibility. Parents may use a specific notebook to communicate with the teacher, which the child will always carry with him/her and the parents will always review it.

9. Teach and allow the child to line or decorate his notebooks and identify them by subject so that the child recognizes them.

10. Encourage the student to clean and order notebooks, materials and packages . Example: all the sheets should be glued in the respective notebooks, and those sheets that do not correspond to any matter are kept in a folder for that purpose. We must try to ensure that the notebooks are kept in order, complete and corrected by the teacher.

11. Maintain constant communication with the teacher to make sure of the activities of the school : meetings, outings, recitals, etc.

12. In the event of the child being absent from class, make up for it as soon as possible . In case of absence due to a pre-planned activity, cover the subject.

13. Keep extra school supplies at home for emergencies . Generally, in the first years of school life children are very keen to use cardboard, crayons, erasers, coloured pencils, scissors, therefore, it would be very beneficial to have reserves of these materials at home in case some special situation occurs.

14. Ask the child how his/her day was, what he/she liked best, what he/she didn’t like and why ; messages that the teacher mentioned; relationship with peers, as well as supervising that he/she carries out the feeding routines properly. It is important not only to pay attention to what the child mentions verbally, but also to his/her gestures, body language, looks, evasions in conversation, and in case of doubts, to go deeper with the teacher. Most young children do not have the facility to express themselves and when faced with new situations they often repress their feelings for fear of not being believed, so it is very important to pay attention to non-verbal language.

15. Both parents must participate in the process of schooling of their child , on many occasions it is assumed that the mother is the one who must watch over these tasks, nevertheless the father occupies a very important place in the process of accompanying the learning, therefore, the tasks that the schooling process entails are a joint effort.

Comments on the importance of preparing children

It is important to remember that, on many occasions , the “anguish” generated by the start of classes is usually greater in the parents than in the children themselves , who absorb the feelings of their parents, and this can affect their capacity to adapt to the new environment, as well as their capacity to organize themselves to the new school demands.

It is not a good idea to try to alleviate a child’s distress at school with these strategies, which I will list below:

  • Staying at the school, picking up at earlier hours
  • Constantly calling the center, or not taking him to the center.

Any of these actions increase the child’s distress and, therefore, may cause him/her greater difficulties in adapting . For this reason, it is recommended to talk to the teacher or the specialised personnel in the educational centre: counsellor, psychologist, etc., who will provide specific guidance for the proper handling of the case.