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Junior Infants

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Getting them Ready for School.
Some tips!

In the first few days your child will face new places, people, rules and relationships. This can be both exciting and frightening.
You can help by familiarising your child with their new environment before school starts:
" Make at least one visit to the school before your child's first day. If possible, arrange to show your child around their new classroom and meet their teacher. Take a look at where they'll leave their coat and lunchbox and show them the toilets, playground and hall.
" Talk about each place as you visit it. For some children just looking will be enough. But others, who learn more rapidly through hearing, will benefit from your descriptions.
" Find out about the daily routine from the teacher and let your child know what to expect. For example, many schools start with reading on the mat, the daily register and so on. Knowing what's coming next will help your child make sense of their day.
" Lastly, for your own reassurance you could ask the teacher what strategies he or she uses to settle the children.

Five ways to make school familiar
1. Point out the school whenever you pass it.
2. Tell stories about what you enjoyed at school and the fun things you did.
3. Build a school with your child from cardboard boxes or play-bricks, then act out some classroom scenarios with your child.
4. Read some positive books about starting school. Good titles include Topsy and Tim Start School by Jean and Gareth Adamson or Starting School by Alan and Janet Ahlberg.
5. Walk or drive to school together so your child gets to know the route. Note how long it takes so you leave in plenty of time on the first day.

Plan ahead
Shop for uniform and other equipment early - you're more likely to find things in the right sizes and you'll avoid the crowding of the last week before term starts. Make the shopping trip into a special event for you and your child and emphasise they're choosing their grown-up school clothes.

The countdown
If your child's in holiday routine - staying up late and rising late - then one week before term begins change their schedule. Gradually bring their bedtime back to a time suitable for school nights and introduce more regular eating habits with meals at set times.

You may need to get into the term-time habit too. Write a list of all the things you'll need to organise, such as dinner money, snacks and lunches, gym clothes, reading folder and painting coverall. Stick the list to the fridge and tick each item off as you sort it out.
Involve your child in getting ready for their first day. The evening before term starts you and your child can work together to lay out their uniform, bag and snacks.

Last of all set your alarm early for the first day - even the most organised parents and children need extra time to get ready for the big event.

Your emotions
Your feelings will guide your child's emotions. If you approach your child's first day with confidence that they'll be fine, using positive words about school and loving attention, their anxieties will be reduced.
Saying goodbye at school may be very emotional for you. But try to send your child off with a smile and a wave along with the reassurance that you'll be there to collect them later. Remember even distressed children settle very quickly once you're gone, so make your leave loving but brief. If you're particularly worried, most schools will be receptive if you want to phone in later to check your child is ok.

The end of the day
Do make sure you're a little early to collect your child at the end of the first few days - even a few minutes late can seem an eternity to a waiting child. Your child will probably be tired and hungry so a healthy snack and some quiet time, with or without you, will be just what they need after school.

Make listening a priority. They'll probably talk about their day in their own time so avoid pressing your child, but do give them opportunities to talk to you.

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