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Is Your Child Ready for School?

by Sesame Lane Admin on 6/01/2017 11:35:17 AM
The thought of your little one going off to school is scary, to say the least. And preparing for it can be really confusing. What should they know, are there things you need to be doing to prepare them? Should they be able to write their name already?
This article will answer these questions, and more as we explore:
  • Preparing yourselves emotionally for the school transition
  • What they should be able to do before they head off to school
  • How you can help get them get ready for school, at home
It’s a big jump from being able to play all day to having a much more rigid structure. So let’s start with one of the most important parts of getting your child ready for school.  

The Emotional Prep

It’s an emotional time for both of you. Moving from preschool to ‘big’ school can be quite daunting for little ones, and it’s a huge transition for you. So how do you prepare, emotionally, to get them through the transitional period with as little stress as possible?

Visit the School Together

Ahead of time, if you can, it’s great to go to the school together. This means you get a chance to figure out where everything is (together) and you’re there for emotional support.
This trip will take away the initial fear, as they’ll know where their bags and belongings will be kept, and most importantly, where the toilet is!

Meet Their Teacher

It will give your little one a familiar face on their first day, making things all a bit less scary. They get to say a quick hello and share some things about themselves, what they like/don’t like or what they’re looking forward to about starting school.
It’s all about familiarity. Taking the anxiety and fear out of the transition.

Read Starting School Stories

In the routine of having bedtime stories? Read ‘starting school’ themed books in the few months before. These will be a lifesaver as the characters will be relatable and will deal with all the unfamiliar and scary situations your little one will find themselves in.
Borrow them from your local library, or charity shop. Have a chat with your little one first and see what they’re most looking forward to and what they’re worried about. This way you can choose wisely and qualm any fears they might have (and get them excited about all the good stuff).


The Intellectual Prep

The emotional preparation to a school move is probably the most important part of it. There’s a lot of ‘unknown’ territory and children can be incredibly anxious about it. Deal with this first and the rest will come naturally.
But what things should your child know by the time they move on to school?
Not that much, really. 
There are definitely things that help, but they will learn a lot in their first year.

Focus on the Basics

Social skills should be a priority, but some awesome basics would be:
  • Knowing their name
  • Their parents names
  • Their address
  • The name of their school
  • Learning their phone number
You can do this by playing with your home (or mobile) phone and getting them to put the number in, speaking them out loud at the same time. You could even make it into a song to help them remember.
Also, if your kid has an allergy they need to be able to tell adults. It saves any mix-ups and will give them a huge sense of independence.


The Academic Skills

Now is not the time to be drilling huge amounts of information into their brains. They should always love learning and the only way to keep that love alive is by learning through play.
Knowing basic colours, shapes and a bit of counting will do the job. If they can hold a pencil or draw with a crayon, even better! But don’t worry, the school won’t be expecting anything from your little one in the knowledge department.
Things that come quite naturally with toddlers will be a great help when they get to school, such as:
  • Knowing some nursery rhymes
  • Having basic number skills
  • Recognising some letters and numbers
  • Experiencing days out
These are all important skills and will put them in just the right place to start ‘big’ school.

The Social Skills

Your little one’s communication skills are far more important in the early days of school. Your prep for this should include making sure they can:
  • Ask good questions (articulate what they want/need)
  • Start to understand their emotions
  • Have ideas of their own
  • Show interest/interact with other children
  • Follow 2 or 3 instructions at a time
  • Transition on to new activities quite easily
With a number of other kids to contend with for attention on a daily basis good communication skills will be key in building a bond with their teaching staff, and making sure they don’t feel overwhelmed.

The Practical Prep

It might feel like your child needs to know everything before they get to school. But how much do they really need to do for themselves?

Take Themselves to the Toilet

Can you imagine if none of the children could take themselves to the toilet? Absolutely no teaching would get done, ever.
Having your little one be able to take themselves to the toilet and wipe properly afterwards saves a lot of work for the teachers, and it’s a great skill for them to know as soon as they can.

Dress/Undress Themselves

This is more for them than anybody else. It saves them the (potential) embarrassment in front of their new friends if they can’t take their jacket/jumper or off without help.
Make sure their school bag is easy for them to open and close. Also, start off with Velcro fastening shoes, at least until they’ve learnt how to tie a shoelace.
It saves time and they will feel more confident in their own ability to be independent.

Put Things in Their Place

Being tidy will help them understand their new school setting a little better. So doing things at home like:
  • Tidying away their toys when they’re finished playing
  • Putting their coat and shoes away
  • Helping with chores around the house
They’re simple, but effective. Knowing the importance of putting things in their place gives them a huge sense of independence, purpose and comfort. Not only will they always know where things are, but they’ll also be learning to respect their stuff and help keep the school tidy.

Ready to Fly the Nest

Most of this comes naturally and you’ll already be doing it without realising. Just keep encouraging independence without forcing it and they will soon be emotionally ready to deal with school.
Teaching your child practical and social skills is more important than anything academic, as this will be taught in their first year, and they’ll soon catch up.
You know your child and you know where they’re at. If they’re ready to learn their name, address and phone number then great, go ahead. But if they’re not, that’s totally fine too. All you need to do is give them the emotional support to be ready for school, to be excited about this step in their lives and they will flourish.