Starting school is a big milestone and although it is a very exciting time for both children and parents, it can also feel very overwhelming. To help alleviate some of your anxieties and to help your child with this major transition here are some top tips on how you can get your child “school ready”.
So firstly, what does ‘school ready’ mean?
Pacey, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years sum this up nicely as follows:
- having strong social skills
- can cope emotionally with being separated from their parents
- are relatively independent in their own personal care
- have a curiosity about the world and a desire to learn
- Talk with your child about starting school. What do they think it will be like, what are they most looking forward to and is there anything that they are particularly worried about?
- If your child has any concerns, talk to them and to their new teacher about it. Provide your child with reassurance by letting them know exactly what to do should the situation their worried about occur.
- Look at the school’s brochure / website together and talk about the pictures.
- Talk about school in a positive way, but don’t be too overzealous as this will not put your child in good stead if they encounter a horrible child who pushes them or says something mean. Always be positive, but gently warn them that they may get tired and that if they have any problems or feel sad, they should tell the teacher.
- Visit the school with your child, many schools set up ‘taster’ sessions which provide your little one with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with their forthcoming new surroundings.
- Read books together about starting school, such as ‘Starting School’ by Janet and Allen Ahlberg, ‘Topsy and Tim Start School’ by Jean and Gareth Adamson or ‘Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School’ by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds.
- If your child seems anxious, then talk about and focus on the things that you think they will like best and if applicable talk about their friends from preschool who will be starting at the same time.
- Practise the school routine, including going to bed at a reasonable time, getting ready, eating breakfast and the school run itself. Have meals and snacks at the same time as your child will on their school days and get into the habit of having bath and stories before bed, which will help your child to relax and wind down as oppose to TV and tablet time.
- If your child has a particular ‘security’ toy or blanket, then try to get them used to being without it during the day. Also, if your child has naps throughout the day, try and phase these out.
- It is natural for you as a parent to feel nervous but try not to show your child, as they can easily pick up on how you’re feeling. Try to stay positive and relax.
- Avoid making negative comments such as ‘I hated school’ or ‘I was rubbish at school’ as you do not want to influence your child to have a negative attitude.
- If you already know some of the other children that will be in your child’s class, then why not organise a play date? Chatting with other mum’s in the same position as you, should be beneficial and may help to relieve some of your anxieties.
- Make the buying of their uniform and essential items for starting school, such as a lunch box, new shoes, coat and stationery an exciting adventure. With regards to uniform shopping, be mindful not to go too early as your child may have outgrown the uniform before September and equally do not leave it too late in case everything is sold out. Buy clothes and shoes that are easy to put on and remember to buy the iron on labels, make sure you label everything!
- Encourage your child to master the following self-care skills:
- Going to the toilet
- Washing their hands
- Dressing and undressing
- Feeding themselves / Eating with others
- Tidying up
- Using a tissue
- It is very important that your child recognises their own name, both hearing it and seeing it written down. Help to familiarise your child with letters of the alphabet and numbers up to twenty.
- If you are successful in familiarising your child with the letters of the alphabet, it is very beneficial to teach your child how to write their own name because then they can label their own work. A Kids Whiteboard is a fantastic tool to help your child develop pen control and practise writing their own name.
- Once your child has started school, if you find that they are tired when they get home, allow them to take a little nap when they get in or make them a healthy snack to restore their energy levels.
- Allow your child a good couple of weeks to settle in before introducing after school activities and try to keep the first few weekends quiet so that your child has time to recharge their batteries.
- Keep talking to your child about how they feel about school, set time aside each day to discuss how they are getting on.
- Establish a good, solid relationship with your child’s class teacher, including preferred times and means of communication.
The start of school is an emotional time for parents, especially if it’s your first child. Try not to be openly upset in front of your child, you need to stay strong and be supportive, it’s important to make your child feel confident.
We would love to hear how you are preparing your child for school in September, please feel free to leave us a comment.
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