I often get asked how a parent can prepare their child for Reception and starting school. With the end of the school year almost upon us, I thought I would share my top tips to ease the transition for your Preschooler.
- Let them meet their new teacher. Most schools have an induction day or Meet the Teacher day. Don’t skip this! This is a really important time for your child to see what their new classroom is like. They will probably enjoy an afternoon or morning in the classroom which will be set up to be very similar to a nursery with lots of free play. The teacher will probably read them a story and like to chat to each child. If your child misses this, they will miss out on knowing what you mean about going to school. Hopefully, this will be an extremely positive experience and they will take that home with them.
- Let them practise wearing their uniform and PE kit. Lots of parents forget this and then expect their child to be comfortable on their first day. Lots of schools have uniforms in the UK and these clothes can be very different to what your child is used to. Children of this age can be sensitive to change and I know that my son was ultra sensitive to clothing (it was always too scratchy or zips were in the wrong place!). Make it fun! See if they can change into their PE kit using a stopwatch! Make it a game. Remember, children will have to change into their PE kit on their OWN with very little help so practise makes perfect (most schools will offer help but with 30 in a class….).
- Please don’t buy your child lace up shoes or trainers! Your child has to become more independent so help them as much as possible by either buying velcro shoes or slip on trainers/plimsolls (we call these daps in the west country!).
- Your child’s teacher will not be wiping your child’s bottom so teach them to do this for themselves. She/he has not got time to do this with 30 children in the class, think about it! If they insist on you doing it, you need to wean them off this. Visit the school toilet if you can do. These toilets can be worrying for some children. On a visit day, the teacher will do make sure he/she shows the children their new toilet.
- Do not hang up your child’s coat for them. They are old enough to hang up their own coat and know where to put their bag after a few weeks. Help them become more independent by asking them to do some things at home. Prepare them by teaching them to put their shoes together at home or putting some of their own belongings away. Start small and they can do it. With my own children, I remember showing them how to put their PJ’s under their pillow, put their shoes in the cupboard and making sure they knew where they school bag lived at home. These small things help them to be more independent at school too. Mummy/Daddy doesn’t need to do everything! Remember by helping them to be more independent you are helping them.
Academics are less important believe it or not. If your child has basic self care skills, they will be able to access the curriculum with confidence. If they are very reliant on adults for their own care, they will find school more daunting.
If you want to teach some academic skills, my top tips are being able to write their name using lower case letters (my son couldn’t do this but he could make an ace Lego model) and being able to sit still long enough to enjoy a story.
I almost forgot…..don’t show them you are upset on their first day….if they see you upset, they will think they should be upset too and this is very unsettling! Do not linger, explain that they are going to have the best time ever (implanting this idea is very powerful) and that you will see them later. Do not dwell and cry with the other parents at a coffee shop!
So there we have it! I hope these tips are useful to you.