8 April 2018

Is your child school ready?

We are days away from getting our confirmation letters telling us which primary school our little ones are going to, its a huge step for them and for us and it got me thinking whether my little Frankie (the youngest of my three girls) was in fact ready for full time education. Yesterday I chatted to a friend, who also has a child starting in September, and is a primary school teacher and we discussed what we can do to help our little preschoolers become schoolers.
I came home and had a good search of the internet too and with that I felt a blog was on the cards, and here it is, my relaxed guide to being school ready.

(All of what I have written is taking in mind that the age range of kids starting September, my daughter will only be 4 in June so I am using her abilities as a bench mark with all of this, I know they all develop at different rates)

Don’t worry about the academic aspects of your child, this is where the teachers are the specialists. It really doesn’t matter if your child can read, count or if she knows letters. It will all come with time.

Talk to your child about starting school in a relaxed way and share your experiences (they won’t think that you ever went to school, as to them you are ancient), make sure it is all positive. If like me you have elder siblings then try and have a word with them about moaning too much about school for the next few months (maybe an impossible task!). So with all the factors that I am listing make sure they are all discussed with a smile on your face (no tales of lumpy mash potatoes and Miss Truchball type teachers).

Talk them through what their day at school will entail, this is where I will use my 7 year old as i don’t actually have a clue, but I think we can all make a good guess. Sitting on the mat, the register, break time, lunch time etc.

If like me you are at your threenagers beck and call to a rather demeaning level, now is the time to try and retract a little. I read last night that we cannot expect a teacher to wait on your child hand and foot, it seems so obvious but there is so much truth in it. I have been trying recently to get Frankie to do more, if she wants an apple she can go and get her own, but I would be lying if half the time I didn’t cave and for ease I do it all for her. So from now on, if she wants to know where her toy is, she has to look for it herself (I remember my oldest used to ask for her teddy when it was right her to her) and if she wants a bowl for her biscuits, she can get one herself.

Work on your child's table manners, make sure they are competent at using a knife and fork (up to their own ability), and also they will be expected to take their own plate up to be cleared at the end of the lunch. 
Another point that was highlighted to me was that many kids eat slowly (sometimes selectively as it’s amazing how they can inhale a bag of crisps or sweets but take 5 hours to eat spaghetti bolognese), have a chat with the teachers if your child is a slow eater and they will watch out for it, and give them countdowns to finish so they do get some play time.
Ensuring your child can open items from their packed lunch is also important, my girls love having lunch boxes at home so make it fun by having a few picnics over the summer holidays. 

Learning and teaching your children's teachers names will be a great way to make them feel like they know their teacher before the first day comes around. They will have their taster days but bringing their teacher into conversation will help your child feel comfortable with these new grown ups.

A little bit of the independence is coming in here again but teaching your child to tidy up and encouraging them to do it themselves at home will help with school and help the teaching staff.

Now I took this one from a government website and I liked how they have put it so I thought I would share.
Introduce your children to “CATCH IT, BIN IT, KILL IT” so when they blow their noses and sneeze, they use a tissue to catch it, they then throw it in the bin and then they wash their hands to get rid of the germs. I know we will be inundated with new bugs come september but maybe we can keep some at bay.

This is probably the biggest one, and is helpful for us as mums, for your child’s development and also for school.
  • TOILET TIME- make sure your child can go to the loo alone and try and get them to wipe sufficiently. A good friend of mine who is a early years teacher and has watched hundreds of children start school was keen to give input about toilet habits of reception children. She encouraged parents to speak openly to the teacher about anything you are concerned about, nearly all kids will have an accident and many will still have soiling issues. The best thing to do is let the teacher know and they can help you. 
  • WASHING HANDS - As with the germs, kids need to wash their hands after the toilet too and need to know how to do this properly. 
  • DRESSING AND UNDRESSING - Let them practice getting their uniform on and off in preparation, do the same with their PE kits. It's good to teach them the normal tricks too, labels at the back, how to scrunch down the tights so they can get them back on. Teachers cannot dress 30 children so your child will have to be able to do this as best as they can.
  • HANGING UP COATS - Your child will have a peg for their coat and a place for their bag, this will be their responsibility to keep them in these places. Try and give your child these jobs at home too. 
  • ZIPS - learning to zip up their own coats is a huge help to teachers so try to teach them this. I started with hoodies with my eldest and moved onto the much trickier coats. 
  • KNOW THEIR OWN NAME - If your child can recognise their own name it will be allow them to put things away on their pegs and in their tray, also to find books etc. 

I am sure so much of this will be completely obvious but when I think back 8 years ago, and my eldest starting school, I hadn’t thought of any of it. So I hope to some of you it will help, it has definitely highlighted many areas I need to work on in the next few months . It’s so exciting and daunting at the same time, it would be great for you all to share any tips you have. 

Written by Jo Johnson
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