Preparing for school is just about as stressful for parents as it is for children themselves. While some things never change, that is children will still need to follow directions, concentrate, work with others, pack up and learn the 3Rs, there are other new imperatives for schooling.
Luckily schools aren't just like the 'good old days'
Thankfully, schools now recognise the need to prepare our children to be independent, lifelong learners. This includes developing dispositions of flexibility, creativity, developing confidence, resilience and empathy.
You can get kids ready by doing some simple things such as:
Encourage children to ask questions
Give children time to answer questions without telling them the answers.
Give children a chance to assert their opinion (without being over bearing).
Require children to make choices for themselves and to accept the consequences.
Be positive and confident about schooling. Talk to children about the importance of having a go and learning from mistakes.
If possible go to school in the holiday and walk around to find the toilets, the office, the playground and figure out how to get from the car park to the classroom.
Try to make the mornings as stress-free as possible.
Have children practice getting dressed in uniforms and tying shoelaces.
Some people make checklists or display photos of things that need to be done before going to school.
Teach children how to open the lunchboxes, containers and glad wrap on sandwiches.
Recognising and writing their own name can be useful but not essential.
Expect children to carry their own backs into the classroom and unpack.
Children need time to unwind and unstructured play Source: Tup Wanders via Flickr / Wikimedia Commons
When children get home from school:
Ask them to unpack their bag, give them a drink, a snack and a bit of a rest.
Take time to reflect on their challenges and achievements of the day and to demonstrate you're interested in this schooling.
Try not to overschedule after school activities. Give them time to play.
Children will be very tired, so early night and a relaxing story is a really good idea.
You might need to prepare yourself for the first day of school. Don't hang around and don't sneak off. Just tell kids frankly you're leaving and will be back to pick them up at the end of the day.
It's hard to know what to expect from children on the first day. Sometimes children who have been confident in the holidays end up being upset on the first day or vice versa. Children who are you expect to have a difficult transitioning into school bounce out of the car with not so much as a goodbye.
It's worth remembering that all children develop and learn in different ways and a different paces. Have faith that they will have fun; they will learn to become themselves and to enhance their own special talents.