At this time of year, I find myself having the same conversation with families over and over again. Parents always wondering what they can do to help their child get ready for school over the holidays.
So, I have created article to help your child transition smoothly to school (whenever that is).
You will see that I will share mostly tips on self care and social and emotional skills, rather than academic learning.
Here are my reasons for this:
- In my opinion it is a parent’s job to provide the space to learn foundational skills before they even set foot in a classroom. Nurturing children to learn about tying shoelaces, zipping up jackets, regulating emotions or even asking an adult for help will be so incredibly important in transitioning to school. More important than the alphabet! Yes, MORE.
- These are skills that can be easily developed in the home by NON teacher parents. So don’t fret about the reading, writing and Maths stuff, we’ve got that covered. But this stuff? This is your game!
Can I encourage you to start prepping your child for school in the year before school starts. Don’t wait to cram in a bunch of skills in the 5 week school holidays just before.
But don’t worry, if you haven’t thought about it till now, and your child is about to start, it’s all good. I am just suggesting a long game where possible, to take the pressure off.
I have MANY recommendations for preparing for school; but I can’t list them all. The next tips are just some of my top ideas. Your child may or may not be doing these things independently yet and that’s OK. These are just a guide. Suggestions. They are not designed to put any pressure on your children.
Can I be clear before we even start. If your child is starting school this year, please just soak them up and enjoy them. Don’t make these things the focus of the next 4 weeks. Just try to integrate the practice of each of them where you can. Keep it peaceful and calm.
Do own shoelaces/ jackets/ jumpers- or use shoes they can manage. This one is important. Many school programs require children to take their shoes off or change clothes. Things like perceptual motor programs, swimming lessons or some PE lessons. Also, when it is wet weather some schools prefer the kids to take off their shoes at the classroom door. If your child can manage their own shoes and clothing it will make for a MUCH easier time for them (and the teacher lol).
Know how to use their lunch box independently and access the food easily. Truly, cling wrap and foil are the WORST for little kids and teachers. Haha! By lunchtime, your child is usually starving and needs food fast! If you insist on using wraps for food, please provide opportunities for your child to practice unwrapping it independently.
Also, those weird lunchboxes that have different compartments and tricky trap doors… just don’t. Haha! An easy to access lunchbox makes the whole lunchtime experience much easier for your child.
Toilet alone- We cannot support your child in the bathroom. And yes, we have been asked to. Please help your child prepare for toileting alone and encourage them to build healthy habits around toileting. Things like, going to the toilet at appropriate times and knowing when they really are busting. Accidents in the classroom can make your child very sad and embarrassed. So, encouraging them to listen to their body and knowing when they can and cannot hold it is very important. Also, reminding them to go to the toilet even when they are busy playing is a BIG one! Some kids don’t want to stop what they’re doing because they are having fun. And consequently, they will wet themselves.
Introduce themselves and ask to play- These skills will help develop new friendships with their peers. It can be nerve wracking for many kids to do this, so tread gently. It can take all of term 1 to settle in, so practicing this one at home can be a real help. Doing role play with siblings and even toys can rally help!
Pack and zip their own bag- Organising our own belonging can be really tricky for some of us; especially little kids in a busy classroom. The end of the day can be frantic or calm. This very much depends on how well a child can find their own things, pack them successfully and zip up their own bag. To make this whole aspect of organization easier, please start practicing now. Ask your child to help you pack the nappy/family bag before days out. Get them to do the zip too! If you go to a café or a friend’s house, get them to pack their own small bag of toys and snacks so they get used to having their own belongings. They can carry it too!
Listen to and follow an instruction- The classroom is basically a lonnggggg list of instructions all day long! Most teachers will only give one or two instructions in at any given time (in the Prep classroom early in the year). So, be sure your child can follow the directions of one or two step instructions. Practise with them by asking them to do little jobs. For example, “Johnny, please get the glue stick and put it on the craft table.” There are 2 steps in that instruction.
Recognise their own name and at least be able to write the first few letters- Don’t worry if your child doesn’t know the alphabet. Trust me! We don’t care! But we do think it can be very helpful for your child’s transition if they can recognize their own name, and even write it. If they can’t write it, then no sweat! Just the first few letters at least will be fabulous. Give your child access to lots of pencils, pens, textas and crayons at home so they can get used to writing. With any writing tool they like, support them to write their name. Use different colours, play with size, decorate it and create art work! Whatever you do, when you practice with your child, make it fun and don’t (DON’T) worry about their handwriting at this stage. Just let them write and celebrate all of it!
Ask for help- There will be many times that your child will need help. They will need help in the classroom and out in the school yard. They might need to ask a friend, teacher, or other staff member or student. Giving your child the language to ask for help will be so important for their confidence. If they are stuck with any issue, they know that they can get support if they use their words. Role play at home can be a great way to practice.
Strengthen their little hands to prep for lots of writing, cutting and play- Lastly (but certainly not least), hand strength will be one of the most valuable things you can support your child to develop before school. In the classroom there is a lot of writing, cutting, sorting and building taking place. To make sure your child’s hands don’t get too fatigued (it will happen!) be sure to get them doing lots of sensory play and hand strengthening activities. Practising skills like squeezing, rolling, pinching, pressing, kneading and cutting will all help strengthen the hands. My Sensory Play with Sensory trays eBook can give you a great kick start!
I hope that these 10 points to making the transition to school easier were helpful! Please save them and share them with your friends! If these posts could help even just 1 family, I’ll be a happy teacher and mama!
But wait, guess what? The other person transitioning to school is YOU. Yep, you! So in my next article I will share ways that YOU can make the transition more peaceful and pleasant for your family. Stay tuned! You don’t want to miss this!
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