How to prepare your child for their first day at school

Ways to minimise your child's anxiety over attending school for the first time
Ways to minimise your child's anxiety over attending school for the first time


During the first day of school, I'm sure school teachers trade stories with each other on who cried more—the new kid, or their mum?

It's not easy sending your precious one off to school. All you're thinking is "But my baby is... well, still a baby! What if he cries for me and I'm not there to comfort him?" Sometimes, the first day might be even more heart-breaking for you than your child.

If you’re anxious how your child will face his or her first day in school, there are ways to minimise the anxiety for them.

Social skills
Play dates, play dates, play dates! A child who is exposed to frequent play dates has already picked up cues on how to behave in a social setting, and has already learned that other kids can (and will) snatch, shout, and engage in rough play.

No time for play dates? Demonstrate good social skills by minding your manners when your child is around, announcing that "I will share this cookie with you" when you give them a snack, and read books together about starting school.

Academic prep
Most children start school at around three years old in Singapore. At this age, there is no real need to pre-learn academics. However, you can help "set the scene" and prepare them on what a regular day at school will be like. Get a small desk and chair, and let them express their creativity by drawing. Sing songs together. Do simple artwork together with bits of craft material and some kids glue. Switch the focus every 20 minutes or so, to mimic a typical day at school.

Separation anxiety
Let your child engage in self-play at home. Sit back and let them just be. A child who always has their parent hovering over them will naturally be anxious when they enter school and that parent is no longer present.

During bedtime, explain each evening that when they start school, Mummy and Daddy cannot go too but they will have friends and a nice teacher to look after them until they are picked up.

Ask if your child wants to bring along a favourite cuddle toy, and what snack they would like on their first day at school. The feeling of being "in control" for a young child will help ease their anxiety.

On the day itself, resist the urge to be over-emotional or hang around just to, as many parents will reason, “see if he or she can settle in." This just unsettles your child, as they wonder if and when you will leave. Simply squat down for a quick cuddle and kiss, announcing that you will be leaving but will be back after school, then wave and walk out the door. It's easier said than done, but the quicker it's done, the easier the goodbye!

Beverly Burgess has lived in Australia, Shanghai and now Singapore. She is a social media addict, having worked in the online space for seven years at Microsoft and eBay. She then popped out Hunter, 3, and Carter, 1, and now her days are all about Family, Food and Fashion. She blogs at