As we enter the summer holidays, some of you may already be thinking about your little one starting school in September. Starting school can be daunting for some children. As parents you want the transition to be smooth. It is completely normal for your child to feel anxious, however if you can help to prepare them at home by giving them the opportunity to be independent during various tasks then there is no need to worry! Here are some ideas of how you can support your child to feel confident, happy and ready for school, but remember, their teachers will be there to support them too! As a Reception teacher, I find myself asking the children to “have a go first”, a lot in class. It is important your child feels like they have the time to practice small tasks like doing up their coat or putting on their shoes without being rushed! If they are still struggling after 5 minutes or so, then they can ask for help, but as parents you need to give them the time to have a go first.
Get to know the school
Talking to other parents can help you feel more settled about the school. If you can, join the school community; whether it is on Facebook or other similar groups, go for it! Practice the daily journey your child will be making to and from the school, this will get them to start talking about ‘my big school’ before they have even started. Always be positive and enthusiastic about how much fun school will be and all the new and exciting activities they will get up to. Use their teacher’s name and talk about the new friends they’ll make. You could even set up a school role-play at home and re-enact the different parts of the day, for example, circle time, register and story time.
Getting dressed independently will help children during PE or when putting their own coat on to go outside. Practice fastenings like buttons, laces and zips. Play dress up with their new school uniform, this will make it feel more normal to wear it in the weeks leading up to starting school. Do this in a fun way, have dressing up races or use a sand timer or stopwatch to beat the clock!
Toileting can be a big deal for some children, and believe it not, if a child does not feel comfortable going, then they won’t! Build your child’s confidence at home by ensuring that they can undo clothing, wipe themselves clean after and wash their own hands. This helps them to manage and understand their own hygiene too.
Snack and lunchtime
In some schools you take your own food, in others you have hot meals. Even though staff are always available to help, if they can do it themselves there is no need to sit and wait. Practice cutting with a knife and fork during meal times and opening containers/ screw top thermos’s you may be giving them. This is already creating a “can do attitude” if they are familiar with the containers and have opened them before.
It is really useful if your child can read and find their own name. This helps them to locate belongings, find their peg and tray. Teaching them to write their name in lower case with the initial letter as a capital will help the teachers when they introduce writing.
Reading stories at bedtime, bath time, breakfast whenever it may be in your house is incredibly important. Sharing and telling stories not only helps strengthen your child’s cognitive development but also improves their literacy skills, concentration, empathy towards others, social skills, creative thinking, vocabulary and quality time with you and their siblings! Encourage them to join in with repetitive phrases in stories and get them to retell stories against the pictures. Whatever developmental stage your child is at when they start school, they will be welcomed by a caring teacher and support team ready to look after them and ease their transition to school.