First impressions count. You don’t want your child to have a bad first day at school simply because something was overlooked, misunderstood or forgotten. Children hate standing out from their peers when they first walk into a new school. Fitting in is everything so knowing what they need to take or do is very important.
Here are the top 10 must-do and must-remember items to help your child have a good first day rather than an embarrassing or upsetting one. Other information can be obtained by giving the school a call or checking the school website. Staff will be there a number of days before students begin the new academic year if you want to double check anything
- Does your child need to take lunch on the first day? Sometimes school canteens are not open in the first week.
- Does your child have all of the books and equipment required? If finance is an issue, make sure to contact the school. Almost every school can arrange for a child to have books supplied if finance prohibits you from buying them. The same goes for the school uniform. This will remain confidential.
- What time does your child need to be at school on the first day? What time will the first day finish? Sometimes the new secondary students start or finish at a different time than other students on the first day or for the first week. Check to make sure your child isn’t the only one waiting around unnecessarily for an hour or more. Being late or standing out is a disaster for shy teens.
- If your child has any medication, asthma or other health issues, does the school know about this? Schools usually have strict policies and the school nurse or home room teacher should be informed.
- Does your child have the necessary medications in the school bag? Students don’t want undue attention due to forgetting important medication.
- Are mobile phones allowed? What is the school policy? Make sure you check. Sometimes mobile phones can only be used before or after school and must remain switched off at all other times. It would be very embarrassing if your child forgot to turn a phone off and it rang in the middle of a class let alone the first level assembly.
- Has your child had a good sleep the night before starting secondary school? It’s a big day in anyone’s book and it’s not an advantage being tired.
- Has your child had breakfast? Heading off with low energy levels isn’t a great idea.
- Have you allowed extra time for the trip to school? Arriving late isn’t going to calm a nervous child down. Allow extra time for heavier than usual traffic or late public transport.
- Does your child know at least one student before arriving on the first day? Children need friends. If your child doesn’t know anyone at all, contact the school toward the end of the year before your child is due to start. Many schools organise a get-together for all students who are starting without any friends from their previous school. Schools make every effort to help students transition smoothly into secondary school. But if meeting up with other students isn’t an option, reassure your child that she will make friends in each class and that there will be many other students who don’t know anyone that first day. Present this as an adventure and a challenge rather than an obstacle. Check the school website to see what clubs and activities are offered for students and suggest that your daughter joins something she is interested in. This is a great way to speed up the friend gathering exercise.
Preparation is the key to success. If you have any questions, call the school. And don’t embarrass your child by crying at the school gate. Yes, it is an emotional time to see your ‘baby’ heading through those secondary school gates, but cry later on in the car. If you have been accustomed to kissing your child goodbye at the primary school gates, perhaps don’t expect that this will continue. Hold back. Sadly, those public signs of affection may be over when it comes to secondary school gates and school functions. Most teenagers tend not to want other students see that mum or dad kisses them goodbye. It’s nothing personal. They still need you!