In my last article, I shared tips for getting your child ready for primary school. But you know who else is getting ready for school? YOU! The parent or carer. There are many things that you can do to make the transition easier for your child and develop a positive and peaceful attitude about school as a whole!
Here are just some suggestions for you to take on board when your child is transitioning into school life. I have so many more, but I don’t want to over do it here! These should be a great start!
Provide your child with food you know they will eat and show them what is in their lunchbox. You would have no idea how much food gets ‘lost’ in the bag area of a classroom. Apples rolling on the floor, random museli bars and yoghurt pouches that all belong to ‘noone’ apparently! If a child doesn’t know what is in their lunch box, then they can’t identify their own food.
Better than telling your child what is in their lunchbox, get them involved in preparing, packing or even just planning their lunchbox. I understand that getting your kids to help make the food and pack is probably a push for the mornings, but if you get them to help make a list of what is to go inside the lunch box, then at least they have some agency over food choices and it builds a healthy responsibility around preparing our own food.
Please don’t pack too much food. Your child won’t eat it. It will go to waste. It will probably get lost in the bag area with the rogue yoghurt pouches and roll away apples. Too many choices make it overwhelming for little kids, especially because the eating time designated in classrooms is very scheduled.
Read a lot to your child. Like, A LOT. Every day, more than once. Get them used to sitting and listening and even talking about the things they have heard and read. It will do wonders for their ability to learn how to read, developing positive reading behaviours and building comprehension.
Count everything. Count the spoons as you set the table and the cars lines up at the lights. In Prep/Kindergarten, counting is the main focus, so if you make counting a focus at home too it can be a huge help for them in the classroom.
Label everything and make sure your child knows where the label is so they can look for it. Trust me. Label everything. Socks, underwear, shoes, T-shirts… everything. Don’t ask me how, but it all gets lost.
Really know the meaning of bullying and how it is different to teasing or normal school yard problems. There will be many friendship complications at school so it’s important to know when things are escalating to an unhealthy or damaging place, rather than typical kid stuff. You don’t want to make mountains out of molehills, but you also don’t want to miss some key signs. Get informed.
Accept that they’ll get head lice. It’s inevitable. Sorry. Go research how to tackle that. You’ll need to know.
Also accept that your kid will tell you they did nothing at school all day and learned nothing too. It’s normal and it’s OK. Trust us. We keep them very engaged. They do wonderful things and their brains are learning.
Also accept that they will be very tired. They will be cranky. They will be terribly behaved after school. They have held it together all day and now it’s time for them to release. Most of them have been holding onto their poop or wee all day too because they don’t want to use the school toilets! It’s all normal and they will settle in soon enough. Enter gently here and offer some grace. They are little kids and they are exhausted.
Your child will probably cry when you think they are fine. Term 1 is all about settling in and moving gently through the transition. Then kids realise “holy smokes, I have to come here for good?” They realise its not a temporary thing. The novelty has worn off and they start to miss the flexibility of home and preschool life. Just know, that resistance to go to school or anxiety about school after term 1 is very common. Work closely with the teacher to move through this phase.
Tip 12 (And a super duper important one!)
Build positive relationships with the school and particularly the teacher. You guys are working in partnership, so it needs to be an effective one. Remember to share the positive thoughts and feelings with the teacher too. Not just the problems or complaints you have. Trust me. It takes 2 mins to email a teacher to share a win or a positive story about your child. It nourishes us teachers more than you know and can lead to stronger and more effective working partnerships.
I hope these tips have been helpful to you and can assist you in the transition to becoming a Prep/ Kindergarten school parent.
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Thanks for reading along and all the very best for your child’s start to school!
PS Please leave your thoughts or experiences in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.