From a Teacher’s experiences, here are a few ways for you both to feel prepared…
D.I.Y – Encourage your child to practise getting dressed on their own, putting on their own coat and cutting their own food. Don’t panic, Teachers don’t expect children to have these skills mastered. But when you’re four or just five there is a huge sense of pride and achievement knowing that you can have a go at what teacher has asked you to do.
Be confident – To ensure that you both feel confident and relaxed about this new experience, make it into a celebration. Count it down like its Christmas. Explain all of the wonderful things they will be able to learn at school. Also explain the things that you will do while they are at school, so your child does not worry that you are sad and alone at home as children sometimes believe. Share anecdotes about when you were at school. Hearing that you went to this place known as ‘School’ as a child gives it more context and children are often fascinated that you were once a child, like themselves.
Stay positive – If the first few days or even weeks are a rough start, you may feel your child started school too early and you would rather your child at home. Unless the school have suggested reconsidering your child’s attendance, re-establishing a routine can be even more difficult. Be patient, adjusting to a new school environment can take time. Talk to your child daily and encourage them to reflect on one or two things that they enjoyed about their day. These things could even be the same events every day for a few weeks and that’s ok. As they grow in confidence and explore a wider range of activities they will tell you more and more things they enjoy.
Express yourself – If you didn’t enjoy your school experience sharing this information with child’s teacher verbally (not in front of the child if possible) or written can really support you in overcoming your concerns. Your child’s teacher and other members of staff within the school will be able to suggest ways to ease your anxieties such as volunteering within the school, joining the PTA, going back to college or finding a support group. If you have any questions just ask! There will always be a member of staff within the building or at the end of the phone who will always answer any queries you may have.
Label, label label – Make school life easier for you both by buying a permanent pen and show them where you have written their names in ALL of their clothes even their shoes. Yes even their shoes, you would be amazed how many children in their class have the same shoes in the same size! Unless your child is hugely confident in tying laces buy slip on or Velcro shoes. Just to put this into perspective as to how difficult laces actually are, I have taught over one hundred reception children – three were able to do laces by the end of reception.
Everything’s changing! – Some children love new clothes, new book bags, new lunchboxes etc. but for some children all of these new things to take care of can be overwhelming. If this is the case introduce new items in advance whenever possible. For these children there is a comforting feeling being able to identify your own belongings and they are a lot easier to find when you know what you are looking for!
Have Faith – Schools want to be able to support your family to enjoy and achieve in any way they can. The staff are an incredibly compassionate bunch who understands how you are both feeling about this transition. Sometimes Teachers will ask millions of questions, but have faith that the information that they are required to gather is for the happiness and wellbeing of your child at school.
Remember your child is about to embark on a new and wonderful time of their lives that only happens once… what a great adventure!