We are just about to begin the new academic year and it is important to properly plan the start of school for children, especially for those in Early Years, since these days will become such a big change for them. Parents should emotionally prepare their child accordingly for the change that joining a classroom will represent. If they are comforted and reassured, they will eventually adapt to it smoothly.
In order for this first contact with school to be a positive experience, Ms Katherine Monaghan, our headteacher at BSB City, the new campus at The British School of Barcelona which will open its doors this September in the city of Barcelona, is offering five tips for families to help them prepare for this new stage.
1. Act calm and natural
It is natural to feel a range of emotions that go from nervousness to excitement for this new stage on the first days of school, especially if it is the child’s first time. Children are quick to perceive these emotions, and so Ms Monaghan recommends to be natural at home and prepare the children progressively as if the start of school was just another daily activity. In order to do this, our expert in Early Years education at BSB City recommends talking with the children about their new school before the day, focusing on what they like and what they will be able to do in this new environment, practicing a fun, morning routine that includes getting dressed and having breakfast on time for the beginning of school. It is fundamental to make them understand, using positive language, that school is a place where they will have fun, where they will discover lots of exciting new things and make new friends. Ms Monaghan explains that: ‘When we act calm, confident and secure — our children feel that way!’
2. Join your child on their first days
When you drop your child at school, plan some time to join them on their way to their classroom and explore the new space together. It is a great opportunity to get in touch with the other children and discover the educational resources and games at their disposal together. When it’s time to say goodbye, organise a short parting routine that is special for both of you—a kiss, a gesture, a song— that the child can recognise as positive and comforting. Above all, trust your child’s teacher. As BSB City’s headteacher puts it: ‘Trust your child’s new teacher. Our teachers are appointed not just because of their academic excellence, but also because of their pastoral skills and emotional intelligence. They will care for your child as if she is their own. In a great school like ours – we are all family.’
3. Remember this is a natural process that takes some time
A lot of children adapt to school quickly, while others need a bit more time. Do not be surprised if you notice any change in their behaviour at home: it is simply the natural adaptation process to their new routine. Our experts at BSB recommend allowing the child to rest once they get home, giving them healthy food and beverages to recharge and tone down the level of activity during the first few weekends. The headteacher of Early Years and Primary at BSB City explains the importance of being patience: ‘Give it time. It’s normal for children (and adults!) to feel a little unsettled for the first few days of a new adventure. Solid, genuine peer-friendships take time to develop.’
4. Get to know your child’s teacher
The teacher will be your best ally when it comes to making your child happy at school and eager to learn. That is why it is very important to regularly communicate with their teacher, mention any concern or change, and asking for advice about what to do in certain situations. Ms Monaghan highlights the importance of meeting the class teacher: ‘Get to know your child’s teacher. Whether it’s face-to-face meeting, or interactions online, developing a relationship with your child’s teacher is paramount. Children thrive educationally and emotionally when they know that school and home are working in partnership with one shared aim: their social, emotional and academic growth.’
5. Enjoy this new experience
Trust in our professional staff’s years of teaching experience to help your child adapt to this new adventure in a progressive and pleasant way. Enjoy your child’s daily progress and encourage them to share every new achievement with you. ‘Have down-time. Let us do the hard work at school. If your choose a good school with expert teachers, copious amounts of homework or additional tutoring are entirely unnecessary (and indeed counterproductive). Make time to unwind and have fun and family-time with your child.’
School-home partnership: the key to make a child happy while learning
Beyond the child’s initial adaptation process in school, BSB experts agree that building a strong and fruitful partnership with families is the basis for children to grow up happy and, therefore, be more open to learning opportunities. ‘At BSB City we are building a nurturing, exciting and diverse new family to make your child feel at home from day one.’