Preparing your little one for Starting School
Starting school is such a big step for every little one and equally for each parent too. So we’ve put together some handy tips from a Teachers Point of View. Great ideas on how you can prepare your little one for school, in ways that will have more benefits to them & their teacher, than perhaps them having the ability to count to 10.
Toilet Training – Your little one being able to use the toilet on their own, pulling down/up their own clothes, sitting on the toilet, wiping, flushing & washing/drying their hands, is top priority and a total must. Not just from a teacher’s point of view but for your little one’s own confidence. Your child may feel reluctant to use the toilets, meaning they hold their toilet needs, if they don’t feel confident to fulfill this task independently.
Recognising their first name – Being able to recognize their first name is super helpful to them. Learning to spell & write it isn’t the priority here. But simply being able to identify their own name in a group of others. It helps enable them to easily identify their belongings, their peg & tray etc.
To achieve this, write your child’s first name for him on things such as their cup, coat, hat, book etc.
Dressing & undressing themselves – Being able to dress & undress themselves is really helpful to both your little one & their teacher. For P.E lessons your children will need to change their clothing to take part, in some school settings. Just picture the work involved in 1 teacher having to help 30+ small children, it’s a huge task & takes a lot of time. Time which eats away out of the lesson itself. Teaching your child to be able to complete this task for themselves means they will not be waiting for help from their teacher, which will allow them more time to participate in the lesson itself.
As a sidenote to this. If your little one wears tights for school, we suggest opting for socks or swapping to trousers for P.E lesson days instead of tights, as tights are far too tricky for them to tackle on their own.
Another part of dressing themselves, is teaching your little one how to put on & fasten up their own coat. Whether that be learning zips or buttons. During the colder months the children will still be heading outside to play during breaktimes. They can end up wasting so much of this free time waiting for the teacher to help if they’re unable to do this for themselves.
Sitting & Listening – During your child’s school day there will be times where they will need to sit on the carpet & listen to the teacher. For a young active child this can be a concept they’re just not familiar with. Your child will be able to learn so much more if they’re able to sit for just a short amount of time.
To help your child prepare for this at home find opportunities during the day to sit with them on the floor & read stories together, look at numbers & letters or set them a small task to complete that require them to sit & focus for a short amount of time.
Peeling Fruit –It doesn’t seem like a thing to prepare your little one for, however it means that they will not be reliant on waiting for help from their teacher, as he/she makes their way through the classroom peeling oranges!
Another aspect to this is offering your child whole fruit, as opposed to cutting it up for them, such as Apples & Pears. At school their fruit will not be chopped up, they will be offered whole pieces of fruit. Lots of younger children often refuse fruit served this way as it’s something they are not familiar with. Meaning they are missing out on a fruit snack.
Using Cutlery & Cutting Food – If your child is going to be eating hot school dinners then this is another key skill. Although the Lunchtime staff are on hand to help the children with cutting up their food. When they first start school they may not feel too confident in asking for they help they need, so it can be helpful if your little one can do this for themselves.
Opening Packets – Along the same lines as the above. Making sure your child is able to open their food packets at lunchtime. Although this can be quite tricky for many little ones, so instead you coul pop anything in a packet into an easy to open container for them. Popping yoghurts into reusable pouches is another great solution to yoghurt pots and spoons (that then go amiss).
Tidying Up – Your little one will be expected to chip in on keeping the classroom tidy, along with their peers. We all know how much mess just one small child can create, so times that by 30+ it’s not surprising the teacher rallies the children in to help with this task.
Practicing working as a team to tidy up at home can help, instead of it being a chore, help your little one to discover the fun in tidying away their toys after play. Perhaps make it a race, or incorporating ‘I spy’ – Can you pick up all the red cars – for example.
Suncream - During the warmer months popping suncream onto your child just before they come to school, helps greatly. It is so much quicker for the children to get outside for activities if its already been applied.
Just let the teacher know you’ve applied it on dropping off your child. There are some ‘last all school day’ suncream options available in most pharmacies too.
Name Tag Everything – Nothing more to add to this, other than be prepared for belongings to go missing in those early years of school, whether the items were name tagged or not. It’s incredibly hard for little ones to take care of their own belongings, but it does make it much easier for belongings to be returned to their rightful owners if all items are named.
Learning to Share & Take Turns – For some children being surrounded by so many other children is totally new. If your child has only previously had to share with a very small number of children being dropped into a classroom with 30 others all wanting that 1 Shopping Trolley sharing can often go out the window. This is where learning to take turns comes in. Teaching patience & taking turns can be much more useful than the concept of sharing. When in a classroom of young children being patient and taking turns is key for keeping a calmer environment.
Lastly Bedtime & Routine – School days can be extremely long & tiring for small children who are new to school life, in those first few terms of starting school your little one may struggle by the afternoon. This is often because they aren’t yet used to such a structured day. Putting in place a set bedtime & morning routine a few months before they start can really help them be prepared when the time comes to be up, dressed & ready to leave by a set time each day.
Putting your little one to bed at the same time each night and waking them at a set time each morning, including having breakfast, getting dressed & brushing their teeth before the time you’d leave the house for school, can make for a much smoother transition when that time actually comes. It also means that you & your little one get to school without feeling upset & stressed about how you got there.
Many of the above skills are things your little one would need to seek help from their class teacher, if they were not yet able to do for themselves. Your little one’s teacher is an unfamiliar face to begin with and having the confidence to ask for help can sometimes take many children quite some time to be able to do.
Even being able to do a handful of the above preparations with your little one, prior to starting school will make them feel ready to embark on such a big new & exciting adventure independently and with confidence.