Preparing Your Child for the New School Year

Mary Procter, February 2016

Preparing Your Child for the New School Year

School is fast approaching for most children and with all ages and stages there is some degree of anxiety involved.  Will I like my teacher, will I have any friends in my class, what happens if I can’t manage being in Year 3, 6 or 11?  How do we make sure this anxiety is minimized for our children?


Do what you can to make sure your child knows as much about the school as they can.  Perhaps you could make sure they know someone at the school, or catch up with a friend during the holidays.  It’s always good to take a visit to school and walk round in the evening when no-one else is there, remind children of which room they will be in, how to find the toilets and which parts of the playground is for their age group.  Familiarity makes for confidence.

Be organized as their parent.  Make sure you have thought about school beforehand, get the uniform, make sure you name everything and have school lunch ingredients ready for easy put-together.  Make the mornings as calm as possible for your child and they’ll be in a better place to learn.  Even if school was a nightmare for you, speak positively about school and how you know they’ll be doing interesting things there.   Your attitude influences your child’s.


Children have lots of different feelings about going to school and sometimes it’s really helpful to name some of these feelings for them.   You may say something like ‘Some people get a bit scared when they go back to school after the holidays, is that how you feel?’, the child will tell you if you’re not right and it might be the beginning of a good discussion about feelings.  Emotional intelligence is something which helps us throughout our lives and the earlier children can identify their feelings and know ways of dealing with them, the more successful they will be.

New Zealand schools are often very hot during February and children can get very tired.   Make sure you have something for them to eat and a cold drink when they finish for the day.  You might also like to give them a bit of ‘me’ time as they’ve been working very hard to fit in with new routines and new people.  This can be exhausting for them.   Having a new teacher, or teachers can be exciting but can also be overwhelming and so it’s wise to recognize that children are working not only at their academic work, but also a new social structure.

You are your child's strongest supporter, they're lucky to have you so make sure you take some time for yourself and allow yourself to be the 'good enough' parent that we all hope to be.