How do you feel when you start a new job? Perhaps you’re nervous about getting there on time or worried that you won’t make any friends. Or maybe you’re concerned about the dress code or whether you’ll get along with the boss. 

It’s much the same for children. Starting school is a big change for your child and it’s normal for them to have strong feelings as they start to think about going to a new place each day, making friends, wearing a uniform and developing a relationship with their new teacher. Some common feelings children have during transition to school can include excitement, sadness, anger, anticipation, fear and anxiety. 

The good news is there’s lots that parents and carers can do to help children adjust to change in the months before school starts. Here are our top tips to help children cope:

  • Listen and talk to your child. Give your child your full attention and listen carefully to what is being said through words and body language. Gently describe what you think your child is feeling and why, which will allow you to check if you have understood what your child is feeling.

  • Comfort your child. Sometimes a cuddle is all your child needs. 

  • Reassure your child when they’re feeling worried or unsure. You might say, “It’s a big playground but there is an area for just the little kids to play.”

  • Prepare your child for changes. Talk positively about starting school and do activities that relate to starting school with your child, such as reading stories about change or talking with older siblings about their experiences starting school.

  • Problem solve challenging situations using this method: identify the problem, find solutions and try them out, and check in with your child after they’ve tried the solution.

You may also be interested in the KidsMatter Starting School resources on Understanding behaviour, Problem solving and Coping skills.