starting school tips


Starting at childcare, kindergarten or school can be a daunting prospect, for both parents and child!

Even the most relaxed child is likely to feel nervous about the new environment and separating from parents and caregivers. The Psychologists from the Paediatric Sleep & Psychology Clinic (Incorporating Sensible Sleep) have put together a list of tips for parents and families to help prepare them.

tips for parents with kids starting school


  • Talk about childcare and read books like ‘Benjamin Comes Back’ by Amy Brandt & Janice Lee Porter
  • Pack a security object (teddy/blanket/something familiar from home that your child can use to soothe themselves)
  • Arrive a bit early so that your departure is not rushed, and you can calmly settle them in
  • Try to engage your child in an activity, then leave (but NEVER sneak away. Always say goodbye so that your child knows you are leaving)
  • Foster a relationship between your child and one of the childcare workers so that they can assist you at drop-offs
  • Try to stay calm, relaxed and confident yourself so that you are not communicating any anxiety or concern to your child
  • Speak with the carers to gain their insights about how your child is adjusting to the change, and if they are upset after you leave, how long for and what helps to calm them down


  • It is absolutely normal for a child to feel worried about starting at kindergarten or school. Allow them to understand that it is ok to feel worried. It is what a child can do about it that will be helpful.
  • Arrive a bit early so the drop-off can be calm, and you can calmly settle them in
  • Try to stay calm, relaxed and confident yourself so that you are not communicating any anxiety or concern to your child
  • Empower your child with strategies to help them with their nerves:
    o Talk about what is going to happen when they arrive at kindy or school, what the routine is likely to be, so they know what to expect.
    o Make a plan for what the child can do if they are feeling very worried, e.g. speak to the teacher, find a friend, go to the library and read a book
    o Make a happy book of things that make the child smile (pictures of mum or the dog, a funny riddle or crazy picture) that the child can look at when they are sad.
    o Give the child a small ‘special’ object like a small rock that they can have in their pocket, and have one yourself. Talk about how the child can hold their special object if they are feeling worried, and that you will also have your special object so that you are still connected and thinking of each other. There is a booked called ‘The invisible string’ by Patrice Karst which also talks about this connection between parent & child.
    o Work out how long it is before the child is picked up to go home and have a list which the child can cross off the times, counting down the hours.
    o Congratulate a child for trying any of these ideas.
    o At the moment you separate (say goodbye) point them towards your next connection (e.g. I am going now, and I can’t wait to see you again later today!) then calmly and confidently leave.


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