By Sarah Ebner
It’s not long before the end of this school year, and the beginning of the next! For those children who are about to start school for the first time, this means a mixture of excitement, and perhaps a little bit of nerves. Here are some tips to help you, and your child, get ready for the big day.
IT'S HARD FOR TEACHERS WHEN A CHILD constantly wets herself, can’t wipe her own bottom and never remembers to wash her hands! So, hold back on teaching your child to read (what’s school for, after all?) and help her keep on the teacher’s good side in other ways. Work hard on making sure your little one is properly toilet trained and other aspects of “growing up”. It would be great, for example, if she could take her shoes and socks on and off, as this is really helpful for PE.
You can also help make life easier by buying shoes with Velcro (rather than laces), coats with toggles and skirts or trousers with elasticated waists.
Cut down on snacks
Once at school, children aren’t able to just eat on demand, so make sure they’re not used to constant snacking. State schools provide their youngest pupils with a piece of fruit for snack time, so you should try this at home too, swapping biscuits and sweets for fruit.
Learn a little
I wouldn’t go crazy about trying to teach your child before he or she starts school. We send our children to school at a much earlier age than many of our European counterparts. However, there’s no harm in helping them pick up letters from the alphabet (start with their name), or count the number of stairs or cars in the street. All this is rudimentary literacy and numeracy and can only be positive.
Read some books
There are some lovely starting school books, which I’d recommend reading together. My favourites include "I am Too Absolutely Small For School" by Lauren Child, "Topsy and Tim Start School" by Jean and Gareth Adamson, and “Kevin Goes to School” by Liesbet Slegers.
Talk about school whenever there's an opportunity
For example, if you’re reading, why not say "I wonder what kinds of books they'll have for you at school, I think they've got a lot of different ones to choose from". This can really help to embed the concept of school as a reality in a child’s mind. You can also go and visit, even if it’s just to take a look over the wall!
It can be overwhelming for children to sit and eat in a large, busy canteen. So, to help your child get used to 'eating in groups', you should try to sit down and eat meals as a family at least occasionally. Otherwise your child might find a school canteen really hard work. It would also help if she could use a knife and fork…
Practice the school run
That way it won't be so brutal on any of you on the day. Find out roughly how long it will take and, if you are going to be driving, where you might be able to park!
Sarah Ebner is the author of The Starting School Survival Guide: everything you need to know when your child starts primary school, published by White Ladder, available on Amazon or Crimson Books for £ 10.99