When your child is about to embark on the school years it can often be overwhelming. Not just for them but also for you as a parent. After all, your baby is now off into the big wide world, in a classroom and not by your side for around six hours of the day.
The years go by so fast, and in a blink of an eye, you may have gotten to this moment. But while it is emotional, it is also a big change and a new chapter for you and your little one. So you may be wondering how to prepare your child for starting school and what you can do. With that in mind, here are some of the things to consider.
Get to know the school
Whether you got your first choice school, or you are considering the school you have been given a palace at, getting to know the school is important. Take a look at their website and see what they have shared online. Obviously, there won’t be much in the way of children and showcasing the school in that way for protection reasons. But you will be able to get a good feeling about what the school do and what they stand for. Don’t forget to check out their most recent Ofsted report too.
Do they have any upcoming summer events?
Many schools need to raise money for themselves or like to do so for charities close to their hearts, so you may find that the summer before your child is starting that there are some events. Perhaps a school fair, fete or performance. Take a look at their website or even call them to ask. This is a great way to enter the school and to give you a chance to experience what is going to come.
Is there an active PTA?
You might also want to find out whether there is an active PTA or parent association within the school. Not everyone is keen to attend meetings or be involved in this way, but some parents want to be as involved as possible. You could also use this time to make contact so that you can get started once the school year begins.
Talk to your child and get them involved
The biggest change is always going to be for your child. They may never have left your side for these last three to four years and so it can be extremely daunting for them. Even if your child has been attending nursery, this will likely be a new environment and place. So it is bound to be scary for them. There are a few ways that you can help ease your child’s worries and anxieties about school.
Talking is always going to be the best way to explore f there are any worries about starting school. Speak to your child and explain what is going to happen, and always try and talk about this in a positive way. Sure you may be feeling sad, but it is a good idea to not let your child know that you feel this way.
This can make them feel even more concerned about it. Instead, talk openly and positively about what is come. Make them aware of the upcoming changes and do some preparation to help ease the transition.
Show them the school
Another great way to help them feel better about it is to show them the school. You could take a walk to the school, if possible, or even drive there and park up. Show your child what is possible to see from the footpath and let them see where they are going. You could also call the school and arrange to be shown around. Many schools will only be too happy to welcome future students and show them classrooms.
It is also worth noting that before school starts there will likely be meet the school and teacher evenings and perhaps a chance for your child to attend school. Some schools visit at home beforehand or offer a staggered approach to starting. However, each school will be different to make sure you check with yours what their strategy is for new-starters.
Getting ready for school
There is often no right or wrong answer to this, but there are a few expectations for when a child starts school. Of course, every child develops at their own pace and rate, which is completely normal. But as parents, we can do what we can to help nurture our children before they start school. Here are a few things that you can do that can help.
What will a school expect?
While every child is different, there are a few things that a school may expect or hope that your child is able to do, or at least be willing to do, when they start. These include:
- Listen to and follow basic instructions
- Communicate their needs and feelings (again is possible)
- Dress and feed themselves
- Share toys or understand about taking turns with things
Do activities with them
You may already do this, but you might want to do some activities with your child. The better there are at certain tasks, the more comfortable they may feel in the school environment. Here are some of the things you could try and help them to grasp:
- Match up and sort objects – this might be basic puzzles and matching the pictures or sorting into colours and shapes. There are a few different ways you can do this, even with toys and household objects
- Help them to identify shapes, patterns and colours – You may have books that can help with this, puzzles or building blocks.
- Identify some numbers – maybe being able to count up to three or five, more so if they can. But leaning about there being one object, or two etc can also help them.
- Identifying some letters, sounds, and maybe even sight words – This isn’t essential, but you can help your child by sharing letters and sounds, and reading to them regularly and pointing out the words.
Let them dress themselves
A uniform will feel strange to a child at first, so a great tip is to let them get dressed at home. It will be great for them to feel comfortable in their uniform but it will also be a good idea to help to teach them how to dress themselves. You can use this as an exercise so they learn how to put on t-shirts, jumpers, dresses and skirts.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to prepare your child for starting school.