Guest post by Alyson Gainsford

Seems like you just get through Christmas, spending time with relatives and friends, a short break, celebrate the New Year, a few New Year’s resolutions to kick start 2016, before the flood of ‘back to school’ campaigns hit early January.

Everywhere you look, you see back to school promos, from books, pens, pencil cases, lunch boxes, shoes and bags. By the end of January, some parents are only too happy to see an end to the school holidays, feeling stressed, bored nagging kids, squabbling siblings, and free childminding services taking its toll on grandparents, who are now in need of a holiday of their own.

Your view of teachers has changed to saints, after spending school holidays with your own kids, and the thought of throwing an additional 20-30 kids into the mix is unthinkable!

For some parents, however, 2016 marks a special milestone in their family, with a child transitioning from home, daycare or preschool to big school for the very first time.

In 2016, more that 615 kids will be starting kindergarten in Port Macquarie. Our son, Jake, is one of these kids, transitioning from Goodstart Early Learning after more than 4 years to Tacking Point Public School.

Starting school can be an exciting and special time for parents and kids – a time where you reflect on your own school experiences and others; it can also be a time that creates discomfort, anxiety and stress for families. Our family is no exception; however, our experience has been made easier with excellent transition to school programs focusing on literacy and numeracy, confidence building and social activities to scheduling lunch box days and introducing books such as First Day Jitters. Jake also visited his new school as part of a Teddy Bears’ Picnic and staged 4 week Orientation Program.

These activities provided an opportunity for kids to explore their new school environment from the playground to classrooms, engaging in fun activities, meeting teachers, making new friends, in a relaxed and comfortable space, whilst parents mingled over morning tea.

With the transition to school just around the corner, I was curious to hear other parents’ experiences about first days of school. These conversations were diverse, colourful, funny and at times emotional.

This is what some parents shared with me:

“I wouldn’t leave, I stood outside the school for hours, until a teacher came and said I should go home. That was my baby boy I was handing over to strangers for the first time. I was there so much, they gave me a job.”

“I ran home on my second day of school, and my mum got a nice shock to find me knocking on the front door. She said, ‘You should be at school’, and I said, ‘I’ve been’.”

“So vulnerable, innocent and cute. Big days, tired when they finish, sleep on the way home, and the first year went so fast.”

“Being on canteen and watching [my] child sitting all by herself in the playground. Painful. When my last born started, I went shopping and kept reaching for a little hand that was not there anymore.”

“I remember my son telling me to stop in the drop off bay and let him out, ‘I’m a big boy now, so you can leave!'”

“Tiny little people is oversized uniforms and hats.”

“I followed the bus from school to home to make sure my son got on and off the bus safely.”

“My daughter smiled and waved good-bye to me. She was fine; I wasn’t. I sat and cried my eyes out.”

“We made it through the first day. One day down, and 13 years to go.”

Without a doubt, starting school is a big milestone that brings about significant change, mixed emotions and experiences for kids, siblings, parents and extended family.

Alyson has put together her 30 Tips and Resources for Transition and Back to School to assist families with their journey. 

Author Alyson Gainsford is the founder and Peak Performance Coach, Trainer, HR and Business Specialist at Dynamic HRM Solutions. This article first appeared in the Greater Port Macquarie Focus January 2016 Issue 122.

Page last updated: Friday 17 April 2020