Starting school is a big deal, for both children and parents. It’s a huge milestone in any child’s life and the start of a whole new life that is entirely their own. Starting off with the best school foundation can help them navigate the rest of school as they get older.
The experiences they have will all help to define what they get out of school and whether they enjoy it or not. As a parent, you can be part of making those foundational experiences as good as possible. If you’re wondering how to prepare your child for starting school, here are some of the top tried and tested tips for getting it right.
Start Talking About School
A few months before starting school, start talking to your child about what to expect. If they’re starting school for the first time, it can take a while to get used to the idea of school and what it means. Talk about your child’s teacher and what the teacher could ask your child to do.
For example, hang your coat up on the peg or sit down on the carpet. One of the most important things to talk about is the fact that you will need to leave. It could take your child a while to accept the fact he has to go to school without you. Reassure him that you will be back to collect him once he’s finished. There are many great books that can help you to explain this.
Meet Children and Parents
It can help to meet some of the parents and children from your child’s class in advance. If your child is used to playing with some of the children already, it could be a smoother transition for him. You can often find local children of the same age and their parents in groups and activities aimed at preschoolers.
It’s worth getting in touch with your child’s school in advance to see if they hold any groups like this at the school. Many schools do this as a gentle introduction for children in the local community.
Do Some Practice Runs
Before school starts, it’s always a good idea to ensure children know what’s expected of them when getting ready for school. It can be a challenge for any parent to get a child dressed and ready for school in the morning if they don’t know the routine. A few practice runs of getting up at the correct time and getting out at the correct time will help the whole family.
Independent children can also get used to dressing themselves and eating breakfast within a certain timeframe. This will ensure you don’t have to worry about getting everyone out of the door on time everyday.
Try Some School Work
It’s great to have fun at school and play with friends but the main reason for school is education. Your child will need to get used to working hard and trying his best. Although the majority of work will be done at school, you’ll need to get used to helping your child with some work at home too.
If you’re wondering where your child is with school work, trying out some kindergarten readiness worksheets is a great idea. It will give you an indication of where your child is academically and what you can do to help.
Plenty of Rest
It could take some time for your child to get into the routine of going to school. You may notice that your child is more tired and irritable than usual. It’s important to remember that school is hard work for any young child and as your child learns, his energy levels will become low.
Some parents find that children in kindergarten want to sleep as soon as they get home. Make sure that your child has a good sleep routine so he has plenty of rest for school and his immune system is at its best.
As a busy parent, you’ll undoubtedly be as apprehensive about the start of school as your child. After all, you’re handing over your most precious gift to a total stranger for hours each day. However, if your child picks up on any apprehension or anxiety from you, it may make him worry too.
When you talk about school together, use only positive words. Tell your child that it is fun to go to school and how proud of him you are for embracing it.
Go To Busy Places
In the lead up to going to school for the first time, it can help to visit busy places for days out. Not only is this fun and a good distraction from any anxiety your child may feel about school but it’s also a great learning curve. Busy attractions offer an opportunity for children to be around other children and adults.
They’ll need to learn how to navigate crowds, what to do to stay safe, how to wait in line and share. This is great preparation for all children without it being obvious preparation.
Some schools offer home visits ahead of your child starting school. This is an opportunity for your child’s teacher to meet your child, introduce themselves, and answer any questions you may have. It’s an introduction that can help your child to feel secure when starting school by seeing a familiar face.
Some parents refuse these visits because they’re worried about teachers seeing their home or judging them as parents. This isn’t what these visits are about. The main aim is to make sure your child feels as comfortable as possible starting school.
Get Grandparents Involved
The biggest ask for many children starting school is leaving parents. Leaving the primary caregiver and entering a new place with new people is highly daunting for children. You can help prep your child by asking their grandparents to babysit.
It’s a good way for your child to get used to you leaving while in the care of someone they already know and trust. The more you can do this in the lead up to starting school, the more prepared your child will be when you have to say goodbye.
Teach Them To Listen
This is a big one and easier said than done but well worth the effort. When your child starts school it will be important to listen. Not just for the sake of learning but for safety also.
Teaching listening skills to young children takes a lot of patience but it can be done. The sooner you get started, the better. You can start by doing things like sitting down and reading a story together. You can then ask your child some questions about the story to gauge how well he listened.
Challenge Your Child
Starting school is a challenge for any child and they’ll need a lot of courage to do it. You can help by challenging your child before school starts. As parents, it’s natural to want to remove any obstacles from your child’s path but that doesn’t help in the long run.
When your child comes up against a challenge in life, stand back and watch. You can always step in if you need to but your child may surprise you more often than you think. Encourage your child to problem solve without your help to gain more independence.
Sending your child to school for the first time can be gut-wrenching but education is a blessing. Remember, your child may have a few wobbles in the beginning but most children settle well into school eventually.