Children who make a positive start to school are more likely to feel excited and motivated to learn, have good relationships with others and develop a sense of belonging within the school community. Research suggests positive parenting practices are associated with adjustment to school and ongoing academic success 1.
Our Starting School resources comprise a series of online videos, easy-to-read information sheets and children’s activity books that parents can use at home. They’re designed to help children transition successfully from home or an early childhood setting to primary school.
Here are our top tips to help parents and carers ensure a smooth start to school:
Week before school starts: With the big day fast approaching, you might notice your emotions are running high. Rest assured lots of parents will feel the same way so take some time to think about what you might find helpful; for example, talking to another parent who has a child starting school. Be mindful that your child might pick up on how you are feeling which can influence their reaction to school, so be calm and confident about the changes ahead to help your child feel calm too.
Night before school starts: Be as organised as possible to help everyone feel relaxed. Pack your child’s school bag and lunchbox the night before and try to include foods you know they will enjoy and be able to unwrap. Share some special time together such as laying out your child’s uniform or school clothing and be sure to listen to any questions or worries they might have. Talk positively about what will happen at school and reassure your child that you will see them at the end of the day.
First day of school: Give yourself extra time to get ready so that you aren’t rushed. This will help you and your child to arrive at school feeling calm and ready for the day ahead. After the big day, try not to overwhelm your child with too many questions but take their lead if they want to talk.
First week of school: Your child is likely to feel tired as they settle into their new routine, so make sure they get plenty of rest. Try not to schedule big activities this week, although you might like to celebrate the milestone in a special way; for example, with a special meal or a trip to the park.
First month of school (and beyond): Remember that starting school is a transition that continues well after the first day of school and is a change that affects the whole family. For some children there may be ups and downs for several months as they settle into the school environment. Be aware of any ongoing issues or changes in your child’s behavior and talk to their teacher if you have any concerns.
See the KidsMatter Starting School resources on Thinking about transition to school, Getting ready for school, Understanding behaviour, Problem solving, Coping skills for children and A change for the whole family.
1. Gregory, A., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. (2008). Positive mother-child interactions in kindergarten: Predictors of school success in high school. School Psychology Review, 37(4), 499-515.
Morrison, E.F., Rim-Kaufman, S., & Pianta, R.C. (2003). A longitudinal study of mother-child interactions at school entry and social and academic outcomes in middle school. Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 185-200.
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2008). Mothers’ and fathers’ support for child autonomy and early school achievement. Developmental Psychology, 44(4), 895-907.