If your child is starting school in September, you along with many parents are probably beginning to realise that it is actually not that far away. You may be going wobbly at the knees, dragging the baby photo albums out and wishing they never said ‘I can’t wait for them to go to school’ because now that time is approaching, you want them to be small again, to hold them, cuddle and protect them. I know some of you will be thinking, but my child’s just not ready, and quite frankly many are not, so it is up to us as parents to prepare our little ones for their new journey. Up until now, you as parents have been your child’s most influential teachers and during this time at home your child will have learnt more than at any other period in his or her life.
I sat on the other side of the fence for 15 years. I was a deputy head of a primary school teaching mainly 4 -7 year olds. Children start school at all different levels and not just academically but socially and emotionally too and I feel that it’s these skills that are more important than academic ones, especially in the early days. I’m not saying that the academic side isn’t important but from a parents and teacher’s perspective, if you have a happy, confident child that loves school, you will have a happy little learner.
In this mini ‘Starting BIG School’ series, I will go through some of the fundamental actions, you as parents can take to make this transition easier for your child. Below are a list of 5 activities you can do over the next term to prepare your child emotionally.
TALK, TALK, TALK
It is more than likely that your child will be invited to several stay and play sessions at school over the summer term so they will get a taster or what ‘big’ school is but I advise that you do lots of talking about all of the fun things they will get up to, toys they will have and new friends they will meet. Take a look at the school prospectus together and point out all the happy faces in the photos. You can also practice the morning routine and do regular drive-bys of their new school so they become familiar with it. Give your child the opportunity to ask as many questions as they want and be honest in answering them.
In my opinion, time should always be made for stories and I would always encourage parents to take on board the value of “chatter” with your child – share a book or talk over the breakfast table. This naturally enriches vocabulary and gives your child important opportunities to ask and explore meaningful questions.
Make reading fun – cuddle up together, enjoy a book together, talk about the pictures, ask questions and involve your child, books are perfect when something new is approaching and are a great way to introduce new things or if something is worrying them. There are lots of stories out there about starting school and here are just a few ideas.
As soon as you know the teacher and teaching assistants names, talk about them. If a name is familiar, as child will always feel more at ease with that person as they get a sense of trust from you the parent.
TRY THE SCHOOL UNIFORM ON
As soon as you have it, get your children to try their uniform on. It gives them a sense of being like everyone else, grown up, proud and hopefully feeling like and optimistic child.
You and your child might already know a few children starting school at the same time, but even if you don’t, try and meet parents at the induction days and suggest a few playdates over the summer so that they begin the year already seeing some familiar faces. Some soft plays near us do school starter sessions giving everyone a chance to meet.
If you have any questions about your child starting school, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will do my best to help.
I hope you have found this article useful. Do keep a look out for more titles on the way in the starting school series by joining our Facebook page!