Before your child goes to school for the first time, here are some things that should have already taken place.

Present a positive picture of school. This can be done by talking enthusiastically about how much they are going to be learning and all of the new friends they are going to make. Point out that the fact that they are ready for school shows how much they have grown. This is a right of passage for children and it should be treated like one – as a celebration.

Make a pre-first day visit.  If they have never been there before, children will have trouble imagining what school will be like. It’s harder to prepare yourself for something you have no first hand knowledge of. For that reason, it’s a good idea to take your child to their new school one or two times during the summer break so they can actually see where they are going and can get used to the environment. If possible, introduce them to the teacher as well. Explain cheerfully and confidently that this is where you will be dropping them off every day.  This helps your gives your child a concrete idea of what school is. Making it concrete makes it less scary.

Get them the information. Get some books or DVD’s that have as their theme children who are going to school for the first time. These will help present the idea of school to your child in a positive light. Some children begin to show interest in “school” things such as lunch boxes and school buses. This should be encouraged by talking about how they are used.

Foster independence. There are certain things you should teach your child to do for themselves, because they are things they will have to know how to do at school. As a bonus, any child with a healthy sense of independence will find it easier to be away from you. Buy clothes and shoes that they can put on and take off themselves (like Velcro shoes or slip-ons). Teach them how to put on their own shoes and jacket, or ask politely for help if they need it. Teach them how to wipe themselves after going to the bathroom and to wash their hands afterwards. Let them know you think that by mastering these skills, they are ready for school.