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How to prepare your child for their first day back at school

Find out how to make the transition as smooth as possible

A mother walks her three young sons to school
A mother walks her three young sons to school

It probably seems like yesterday that you saw your baby take their first steps. Now you’re getting them ready for another year of recess handball tournaments and lunchtime canteen trips. Where did the time go?

Excitement, anticipation, nerves; going back to school is an annual milestone and can be a challenging time for parents and kids alike. But, if you plan ahead and follow a few simple steps, your not-so-little one’s first day back to school can be stress-free and memorable in all the right ways.

We asked the experts how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

1. Focus on the positives

In the weeks leading up to your child’s first day back, it’s important to remain as positive as you can about school. Focus the conversation on all the new and exciting things that the new school year can bring - making new friends, playing games, going on excursions and learning about a certain topic.

From managing worries to making mistakes and feeling brave, Life Matters Clinical Psychologist Lynn Jenkins has written a range of books to assist with children’s wellbeing. According to Lynn, the more confident and positive you are about school, the more confident and positive your child will be too.

2. Keep calm

Whether we’re five or 55, whenever we start something new, there’s a period of uncertainty and uneasiness that goes along with it. The good news is, it’s completely normal for your child to feel a little worried in the lead up to their first day in their new class.

“If your child is feeling nervous, it’s important to normalise how they’re feeling and not dismiss their discomfort,” says Lynn. “What they need is a bit of time and consistency.”

A helpful technique Lynn uses is to encourage a nervous child to find their brave. If you want to give this technique a try, simply ask your child to imagine a brave person they know and get them to focus on what that person might think or do in a situation. Rather than saying, “I can’t do this” a brave person would be more likely to say, “I’ll give it a go!”.

If your child is experiencing more than just first-day jitters, Lynn recommends seeking assistance from their school as the first port of call. Teachers are very familiar with the transition between class years, so they’ll be ready to lend a hand.

A young girl gets her eyes checked by an optometrist

3. Practice makes perfect

To ensure there aren’t any first day mishaps or last-minute stresses, practice and preparation are key. Here are a few ways you can best prep for day one:

  • Organise a morning where you rehearse getting ready for school and run through the full routine from waking up to having breakfast and brushing teeth.

  • Make sure your child’s backpack, hat, lunchbox, library bag, pencil case and any other essential school supplies are all clearly marked with their name.

  • Get your child to practice everything from unzipping their backpack to opening up their lunchbox and trying on their uniform.

4. Check-in for a check up

Did you know there’s a link between your child’s oral health and their overall health? If it’s been a while since their last dental check-up, there’s no better time to book one in.

Your son or daughter’s ability to learn could be compromised by an untreated dental issue, so it’s best to fix any potential problems before they have the chance to develop into something more serious.

To help get you started, nib Dental Care centres have 11 locations across NSW, ACT, VIC and QLD and all of them will bulk-bill. Call 1300 345 300 or visit to book an appointment.

And you might not have to pay a thing for your appointment! Find out whether your child could be eligible for $1,000 of free dental today.

5. Is their sight alright?

Does your child have difficulty recognising family members in the distance? Do they blink or squint frequently or sit close to the TV when watching their favourite show? These are all signs that they might be struggling with their eyesight.

According to optometrist Arash Zibaee, when it comes to our sight, early detection and intervention is key to preventing long-term damage. So, here are some of the other most common signs that could indicate a vision problem:

  • Complaints of blurred or double vision

  • Frequent headaches

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Leaving out or switching words when reading

  • Frequently rubbing their eyes

  • Covering or closing one eye

Whether your child is currently experiencing symptoms or not, it’s important to have their eyes tested by an optometrist before they hit school and at least every two years from there.

Ready to lock in an eye examination? There are a number of nib Eye Care Centres across Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra and you can book an appointment online today.