Preparing Your Child for Big School and Protecting Sleep

Erica Hargaden
July 19, 2021
7 min read

The time has come for your little one to transition to primary school from pre-school or nursery - where did the time go?

After spending the first couple of years of your child’s life working on their sleep routine, a big change can have an impact on the quality of sleep. However, it is possible to take steps to help your child transition and prepare for change so that moving to primary school does not ruin all of your the settled sleep that you have established. Starting primary school is a major life event that stays with us throughout life, so it is important you get your child ready in a positive and confident way.

Here are our top tips for preparing your child for big school and protecting their sleep.

Why Can the Transition to Big School Affect Sleep?

Change is a natural concept in life; whether we are moving somewhere new, starting a new job or forming new relationships, change is always happening. Change for adults is manageable because we are able to build up the confidence to manage feelings of anxiety, nerves, and excitement, however, this is one of the first major changes a child will experience, which means they haven’t yet built up mental resilience. Meeting new friends, teachers and being in a new environment can be overwhelming for children, which can keep them awake for longer at night and affect their quality of sleep. As your child learns new things about the world around them they will naturally have more on their mind. The development of new skills can also cause your little one difficulty getting to sleep.

How Do I Prepare My Child for Big School?

There are a number of ways that parents can begin to prepare their children for starting primary school. The main advice for parents is to begin the conversation about big school from very early on so it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise when they are ready to transition. Our top tips include:

Introduce Big School through Bedtime Stories

The best way to begin an introduction to big school is through some positive bedtime stories which portray primary school as an exciting adventure. There are many books on the market that are great for this and will plant the idea of big school into your little one’s mind from an early age.

Talk to Your Child About School in a Positive Way

Big school should be presented to your child as an exciting change with plenty of activities and a place to make new friends. Regularly start a conversation about big school and encourage your little one to ask questions about it. Promoting an open conversation where your child can vent their feelings about big school can really help you to find out your child’s thoughts.

Help Your Child to Become More Confident

Confidence is a great trait for children to have because the more confident they are the less likely they are to feel nervous, anxious or sad. You can help to boost your child’s confidence by helping them develop the skills they will need in school, such as getting dressed alone, eating lunch, and talking to other children. Boosting these skills will prepare your child better for their transition to primary school.

Start a Morning Routine Similar to When They’ll Be Attending School

When big school starts your little one will have to start waking at a certain time, getting dressed, eating breakfast etc. Starting this routine before school starts can help your child transition as they will know what to expect in the mornings which can ease any nerves they may have. We recommend 1 to 2 weeks of practising this routine.

To make this successful you can add elements of fun like a rewards chart or plan exciting activities for your child to look forward to in the mornings.

What Do I Do If My Child’s Sleep is Affected by Big School?

You may have done all you can to prepare your child for big school, but when the time comes they just can’t get to sleep or keep waking up during the night. The best thing to do when it comes to your little one struggling with sleep is to be consistent and continue with the usual bedtime routine. If you find that the current routine isn’t working for your family, you can try changing it up with a more relaxing bedtime (i.e. warm bath, low lights, relaxing music, storytime).

Other things you can try to help your child to get more sleep:

  • Make sure your child is eating a healthy and balanced diet
  • Introduce an after school activity to help tire your child for bedtime
  • Avoid sugary foods or drinks before bed
  • Prevent screen time at least an hour before bedtime
  • If your child has a clock in their room, move it to somewhere they can’t see it from their bed

Sleep Solutions with Babogue

Erica at Babogue is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant and Mum of three, who has experience helping thousands of families around the world with sleep. Erica offers both one to one consultation as well as an online program; The Sleep Series. The Sleep Series includes video content, digital downloads and access to a private Sleep Series Facebook group. At the core of each course is 7 steps to better sleep which will give you the foundations and tools to create healthy sleep habits for your child through each age range. Find out more at today!

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Erica Hargaden
Sleep Consultant, Babogue

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