Tears may be flowing as thousands of children begin their first days at school around the country this week — but fretful parents are advised to remember their crying could be contagious.
Some help is on hand, however, with online advice from experts on how to help the infants settle into the start of their educational years.
“It is often the parents who are overwhelmed and have to hold back the tears as their child takes this next step on life’s journey into primary school,” says a new National Parents’ Council-Primary (NPC-P) booklet.
One of the key tips in the Going to Big School booklet is for parents who feel their eyes moistening to explain to their son or daughter that they are crying because it is a happy day.
“Remember that your child is alert to the emotional messages you send out, so don’t panic and let the child see you crying,” it suggests.
Other tips on helping for a smooth handover include getting some simple planning right:
* Have clothes, uniform and shoes clean and ready;
* Eat a good breakfast — learning requires energy and enthusiasm;
* Have your child’s name on all their belongings — they will be confident in recognising their own name;
* Have their lunch and/or healthy snacks ready along with an easy-to-open lunch box;
* Know your route to the school — if the time or distance allows, why not walk?
“If your child does cry going in, follow the lead of the teacher,” says the guide.
“Often children who come in the door crying are OK and laughing five minutes later. Rest assured that if your child is not settling, the teacher will contact you.”
The booklet has been drawn up with the help of Early Childhood Ireland. For most children starting in primary school this week, being in a classroom environment may not be as unusual as for older generations with most three or four-year-olds availing of the Government’s free year of pre-school.
Early Childhood Ireland has also published a free leaflet for parents on its website this week. Chief executive Irene Gunning said that in addition to organising uniforms, booklists, and school bags, parents should take the time to chat to their child about school as a place to meet new friends and do new things.
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