Starting school can be a nerve-wracking time for children and parents alike and I have spoken before about how I am feeling about our little man starting this September. However, I have managed to put my own feelings aside, instead focusing on helping prepare him for his next step. There are a multitude of things that you can do to help make the transition from nursery to ‘big school’ as smooth as possible. The important thing to remember is that every child is unique and some may need more support than others when it comes to preparing for school.
So, what will your child need to know before they start school? How can you help them be as ready as possible? Having already done this twice before I started preparing our little man as soon as his school place was confirmed and wanted to share my top tips to help parents who are in the same situation.
Most schools have an open day or orientation session when children and parents will be invited to go along and have a look around, if you are able to I urge you to take the opportunity. Allowing your child to see the environment will help them familiarise themselves and in turn feel more comfortable when it comes to drop-off in September. These visits also allow you to ask staff questions, I recommend you enquire about the school day routine as this will allow you to discuss with your child at home.
As well as these pre-planned visits it’s a great idea to do a couple of practise school runs, walking or driving the route you will take. Again, this will help your child familiarise themselves with the school and the change in your routine.
Talk About It
This one is probably obvious but discuss school with your child. Talk to them about what will happen at school and discuss the school routine if you’re familiar with it. Talk through the differences between their old setting and what is expected at school and most importantly answer any questions they have, regardless of how random they may be! By talking openly your child will have the opportunity to air any worries or anxieties they may have about starting school, allowing you to address and allay them before September.
The big difference between a childcare or nursery setting and school is that your child will be expected to take more responsibility for their self-care. They will be expected to be able to dress, feed, wash (hands) and use the bathroom independently. Use the weeks before school starts to practice dressing and un-dressing in their new school uniform as there may be tricky buttons, hooks and zips and as the old saying goes “practice makes perfect”. Likewise, if your child struggles in any other areas take the time to help and encourage them to try and master those things independently before school starts.
Your child will I’m sure already be well versed in their ABC’s and counting, especially if they have been attending a nursery or similar setting, however by practising at home you will be helping prepare them further for the classroom setting.
There are so many ways you can incorporate numbers into your everyday, why not count items or aisles at the supermarket or sing songs that include counting? Ask you child to think about simple additions using everyday items, for example if you have two biscuits and they have two biscuits how many are there altogether? Simple maths presented in a fun, engaging way will help give your child a head start when it comes to their schoolwork.
The same applies to writing and letter work. Firstly, help you child learn to hold their pen in the correct position – not as easy as it sounds if they are determined to use the palm grasp! Practising letters and shapes for writing is a skill they will be developing at school and is so easy do at home. We have been using the School Prep English Lets Get Set for School by Amy Gunner* which is fantastic. It covers the four main areas of the EYFS Literacy Framework – Handwriting practice, First Sounds, Reading Words and Rhyming Words and the activities are fun and easy to complete. At the end of each section there is a certificate to complete and cut out to recognise your child’s achievements. Leo really enjoyed completing the book and is super proud of his certificates which have been displayed for all to see!
If you don’t already read regularly with your child, it’s a fantastic habit to get into as it not only helps them with their literacy and reading it also helps with their listening skills, which are essential at school. I’m a massive advocate for reading, it’s been one of my favourite things to do for as long as I can remember and is something I have passed on to my children. At school your child will be reading regularly and bringing home books to read aloud to you, so start sharing books now!
There are also lots of children’s books on the market that deal with starting school in a kid-friendly way and are ideal to share as part of your preparation. Many of these books take a common worry or anxiety and use the story to illustrate there is nothing to fear. We have been enjoying Dinosaur Starts School by Pamela Duncan Edwards** and Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow**.
What did you do to help prepare your little one for school? Do you have any tips or advice to share? Drop us a comment below and let us know.
*This item was gifted to us in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
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