Starting school is a huge milestone for children and their parents. I bet it doesn’t seem that long ago that you brought them home for the first time and they were totally reliant on you for everything! They might be growing up fast, but they still need us to help them navigate the world and the start of school heralds a big change in most children’s usual routine.
Perhaps your little one has missed out on time at pre-school recently. Or your own school days are a hazy distant memory and you aren’t certain what will be expected of your little one when they walk through the doors of Reception class for the first time. You are not alone in having those feelings. Lemonjelly nannies have helped hundreds of children prepare to start their school journey.
Gently build their curiosity about school and make it seem exciting. Talk to them about their new school and perhaps focus some role play games around school activities like having a family sports day in the park or garden. For a quieter activity you could gather up some soft toys and have group story time. If you know their teacher’s name, make sure your child knows it and is familiar with it.
Playing number and letter games with children is a great way to increase their familiarity with some of the more traditional learning that they will encounter. Sing counting and rhyming songs; encourage them to draw and trace so that they are comfortable holding a pencil and give them lots of opportunity to recognise their own name when it’s written down, encouraging them to write it themselves if they show interest. Children don’t have to be able to read, write and do sums before they get to school – teachers are more than happy to help them acquire those skills.
Children that are not confident about taking care of themselves may worry about who will look after them at school. Give lots of praise when they dress and undress themselves and encourage them to do more for themselves like wiping their own bottom and putting clothes neatly in a pile. Eating independently is another key skill for them. Imagine their pride when they can sit with their new friends at lunch and open their own yoghurt carton – worth all the changes of t-shirts you will go through as they practice at home!
Even the best teachers and teaching assistants can’t have eyes everywhere, all the time. Encouraging your child to identify when they are sad or overwhelmed is a useful skill to help them develop. Let your child ask lots of questions at home so that they know speaking up is welcomed. It can be hard not to let the frustration show when they’ve asked you 40 questions before they’ve had their cereal, but growing their confidence at speaking up means they will feel able to actively engage in learning and, crucially, let an adult know if they feel poorly or something is wrong.
Helping with chores in the house isn’t just helpful at preventing teenagers that leave their clothes and dirty plates everywhere. Children develop a real sense of pride at accomplishing a task well. And of course, they have to listen carefully and follow instructions as you are helping them to complete it for the first time; crucial skills for their school journey and a way for parents to ensure that responsibility for smooth running of the house is appropriately shared out. In our house, LittleLemon is in charge of setting up the dinner table and feeding our family dog.
As we get towards September, get your child involved in the school preparations – trying on uniform, choosing a bag or waterbottle. Walk the route to school a few times or talk about what your morning routine will be…as well as what will happen at home time. If you know of others starting at the same school, some play dates may help to ease anxieties about not knowing anyone.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy the few months before the school routine kicks in. Have fun, enjoy the outdoors, have lots of cuddles and laughs. Help your child to see school as a natural progression and they (and you) will take it all in their stride.
You’ve got this.
Lemonjelly Childcare Solutions