Starting Primary School is an exciting time for young children and their parents, as well as being a daunting time too. With a little preparation and encouragement most children will settle in to school life quickly and easily.
Here are some tips to help you prepare your child to be school ready: –
- Read books about starting school together. These picture books may be helpful: –
- Starting School By Janey and Allen Ahlberg.
- I am too Absolutely Small for School (Charlie and Lola) By Lauren Child.
- Topsy and Tim Start School by Jean and Gareth Adamson.
- Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds.
- Going to school sticker book and Starting School Sticker book by Usborne.
- Come to School too, Blue Kangaroo! By Emma Chichester Clark.
- Be positive about starting school and enjoy your child’s excitement. Talk with your child about school. Ask about the things they are looking forward to when starting school or what might be worrying them.
- When talking about school use the teachers name to help your child become familiar.
- The school may have a social media page that you can like and post on. This is a good way to meet new parents.
- Arrange playtimes with other families whose children will be going to the same school as your child – it can help if your child knows another child at their school before they start, these will be a friendly face on their first day.
- Practise the school morning routine, getting dressed, eating breakfast, getting their belongings together, leaving on time.
- Practise the school run to familiarise your child with how to get there. You’ll both be prepared for the school morning run.
- Support your child in becoming more confident in using the toilet, getting they’re on time, wiping properly and washing their hands.
- Encourage your child’s independence and self-help skills e.g. dressing, packing school bag going to the toilet, washing their hands, unwrapping their food and closing his/her drink bottle, choosing or making nametags for bags, lunch boxes.
- Practise using full sized cutlery, especially if they’re going to have school dinners. If they are going to have packed lunches ensure that they can open the containers and packets that you place inside.
- Encourage your child to tidy up after themselves, i.e. hanging up their coat, putting toys away, they will need to do this within school. You could always turn it into a little game with them to make it more fun.
- Encourage your child to dress themselves, so they can manage things like taking jumpers on and off, this will be good practise for them when they take part in P.E lessons.
- Teach your child how to hold a pen and pencil correctly, practise using the pen or pencil to write their name.
- If buying new clothes and shoes choose those with easy fasteners that your child can manage by themselves.
- Put name labels on absolutely everything, make sure you familiarise your child with these and where they can find them in case of lost property.
- Arrange and confirm your before and/or after-school care arrangements e.g. breakfast or after school club, or a childminder. Show your child where the after-school club is and talk about how they will get there.
- Establish routines for dinner, bath time and bedtime. Four and Five-year old children need about 11-13 hours’ sleep each night
- Encourage them to have fun while they are learning.
The first week of starting a new school can be stressful for parents. To make the first day go as calm and smoothly as possible below is some tips: –
The night before
- Help your child to pack their school bag. Include items the school has recommended.
- let your child know who will take them to school and pick them up on the first day
- check what time school finishes and arrive in plenty of time to collect your child.
In the morning
- make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast
- depending on the weather, put sunscreen on your child in the morning and make sure they have a hat and a drink of water
- don’t forget to take a photo of them in their school uniform – and again on their very last day of school
- leave home on time allowing time to say goodbye and be positive when you say goodbye
- remind your child of the time you will be back to collect them using their relevant routine e.g. after lunch, after story time etc. At first, you may stay a while to ensure your child feels secure, but once they have settled in, a short and reassuring goodbye encourages independence.
- show your child where you will meet them at the end of the school day.
At the end of the day
- Talk to your child about what happened at school
- your child might be overwhelmed and not remember everything that has happened during the day so instead of asking “How was your day?” or “What did you do today?” ask specific questions like “Which friends did you play with today” or “Which book did you read today?”
- Within the first few weeks your child may seem more exhausted at the end of the day, when they get home let them have some quiet time and a healthy snack and drink to help restore their energy levels.
Don’t worry if your child in the first few weeks is tearful and clingy, this is normal. Although you may feel terrible about leaving them, they will be playing happily with their new classmates in a few minutes.