Parents across the UK recently heard the outcome for their child/children starting school in September. We were one of the keen and eager parents who submitted our application on the day applications opened in November! Waiting to hear the formal acceptance felt an absolute age away. We now know where Little Man will be going to school. As the school is in very close proximity we speak about going to school often, so that is a regular conversation. By talking about it early on has helped him to understand about what will be happening later this year.
There are four months to go but there is much to do in order to prepare your child for the transition to their schooling life which now awaits them. We hope this will help the transition to school as it is clearly a big change for them to adapt to.
Talk about school
If you haven’t already, talk openly and positively about everything that will happen at school. You will soon be informed about their teachers name, so talk to them and use the teachers name often so it becomes familiar, plus all the positives in that they will make lots of new friends. There are an abundance of books about starting school, so invest in those and read them lots in the coming months.
If your child goes to nursery, they will want to know details of the school so they can begin to prepare reports etc to be sent over to the school. We have found it helpful to understand what nursery have been doing to prepare him so we can help support that at home. Also we wanted to know how they would be approaching things just in case Little Man spoke about this at home.
Inside the Classroom
Despite the coronavirus most schools have been able to show parents around beforehand, however now would be a good time to see if they will allow you to visit before the summer holidays begin. We have already spoken with Little Man’s school and they have been really supportive in allowing us to arrange for a visit to his classroom, to meet his teacher and for him to get familiar with the layout etc. Most schools will have several inductions sessions for your child, so again this is a great opportunity for them to see everything before they start in September.
If the school won’t allow this due to current restrictions, ask if they can send you photographs of the school/classroom or display on their website, so you can revisit these as and when you like.
Some schools hold open events over the Summer, such as fetes which would be a great way to get back to school and to meet some teachers and perhaps other children who may be starting at the same time too. Most schools will display these in your local area or have these displayed on their website. You may also be invited too - so get in touch with the PTA if needed!
As we go by the school most days, it is familiar to us and Little Man, therefore we often have discussions about school and what it may be like. You may want to pay a visit perhaps once a week or every fortnight to get not only used to the journey but also to enable that natural discussion to take place.
Preparing for Reception
Children will all develop at different ages but there are some key practical skills they’ll need to help them feel confident and happy about going to school. The academic stuff can wait until later (in our opinion) so unless you want to spend that time in teaching your child to read and write before they start school, spend that time on getting the skills they’ll need from the get go!
Your child will be expected to be able to do some things for themselves and there are a number of ways you can support that to ensure they feel confident and more independent.
Getting Dressed - once the school uniform has been purchased, have it out on display, perhaps hanging on the wardrobe door so they see it and become familiar with it. Make it a game that they get in and out of it (including PE kit) - you’ll soon see where they may need some help and practice.
Find what works for your child when it comes to putting on a coat. They aren’t always the easiest of items to put on (even I struggle some days!). There are some great videos on Youtube showing how you can lay the coat on the floor, putting the arms in and flip the coat over your head. Find what works for you - however you do it.
Hygiene - Whilst dressed in their uniform, get them to visit the toilet and you’ll see how easy their uniform is to take up and down. If they need a little practice you’ve got plenty of time. If they need help make sure they know it’s OK to ask for help by putting their hand up and asking their teacher.
Accidents will happen and that is understandable. There will be lots going on and for them to absorb. Make sure they know how important it is to wash their hands after going to the toilet - a good game for this is to cover their hands in paint and make sure they get it all off. Practice makes perfect as they say!
Lunch - Obviously the most important part of the day for us all, time to refuel and energise. Children are entitled to a free school lunch when they start school so see if you can see what is on the menu beforehand. This may take some of the pressure away at the time or in the queue - and you can have discussions beforehand. If they’ll be having packed lunches make sure they can open everything without help.
Some parents like to prepare their children so they can read and write before they start school - that is of course OK but it isn’t required. There are a few pointers to help your child on an educational level and to aid their learning;
Help them to recognise the spelling of their name, but don’t fret if they can’t. Teachers often put a photo or picture with their name and this will make it easier for them to recognise their name.
We’ve been told countless times that reading to will support learning as much as possible. Take time during the day and perhaps at bedtime to read. They will soak up all those words and sounds and this will help them without them realising it.
Numbers & Letters
Pick up some cheap books or games that help with letters and numbers. They don’t need to know them all but this will help them if they have an understanding of basic numbers and letters.
Social skills are needed to help them develop socially and emotionally - which will of course happen at their own pace, but getting used to these skills will help them during their school life, as well as personally.
Children will be required to sit still and listen to what they are being asked to do or being told. Help them at home by sitting with them perhaps reading a book or doing a jigsaw.
We all need to know that it is nice to share so having your child understand that they’ll need to share will help them, especially playtimes with others.
Being Away from Home
Every school with differ how they introduce new children to the school but most will incorporate a small transitional period in which the new children will perhaps spend the first few weeks attending for half days, gradually building up to full days, 5 days a week.
We have been looking at Little Man’s schedule since September last year when he started nursery and have been gradually building his stamina by introducing another nursery day and increasing the days that he is busier. So come the summertime he will be busy 5 days a week more or less and this we believe will help him come the start of school.
If your child hasn’t been in a nursery or preschool or spent time with a family member away from you on a regular basis, see how they do with being away from you and of course reach out to the school to seek support should you need it.
We’ll definitely be blogging more about school, so watch this space!