7 Expert Tips You Need to Prepare your Child for Primary School
Your child’s first steps into school can be a thrilling, but daunting, experience for both of you. Preparation is key to making everything run as smoothly as possible, so in this article we’re going to look at some practical tips for that first scary week, and address some of the worries many parents have as their little one hits that next key milestone.
1. What can I expect in the first week?
Starting primary school presents a mixture of emotions – from eagerness and excitement for term to begin, to nerves about entering the unknown. And that’s just the parents.
So your child is likely to have mood swings and changes in behaviour, possibly in the form of tantrums and moments of hyperactivity. Just remember that they’re going through a big change and at this age, will still be learning how to regulate their emotions.
The first day will seem to last forever, and your child will be very tired when they get home after a day of meeting and playing new friends. So make sure they get plenty of sleep the night before, and allow lots of time in the morning for getting ready. It may be worth practising getting into and out of their new uniform, to make mornings slightly easier and to prepare them for changing in P.E. lessons.
2. My child can’t read, write or do maths yet. Will they be behind in class?
Teachers are there to teach literacy and numeracy, so it’s absolutely fine for children to not have these skills yet; in fact, it’s better not to rush children before they’re ready.
What is important is that your child has the abilities they will need for learning these skills, which can all be developed through play time. For instance, in order to write, they will need to be able to hold a pencil, and for this, they need good hand strength and coordination (fine motor control). This can be improved by playing with moulding clay, jigsaws, or construction toys.
3. I’m worried that my child won’t behave in class.
Attention span is generally short for young children and varies between individuals, from around five minutes (or less) on a boring or uninteresting task up to 15-30 minutes when they are particularly absorbed in a game. Focus will come with practice, and can be encouraged with quiet activities like puzzles and reading.
4. What if my child can’t cope without me?
If you’re concerned about how your child will manage without you to help them eat, dress, or use the toilet, these are skills that are worth practising before they get to school. Encourage them to do these tasks on their own regularly, allowing extra time when getting ready if needed. They might not get the button in the right place, or all the peas in their mouth, but this is all part of learning. Praising when they try to do things for themselves will help boost confidence too.
5. I’m worried my child won’t make friends.
Young children have an uncanny ability to make friends with anyone and everyone. Some children are more shy than others though and can find it harder to approach new people. It may be worth arranging a play date before the start of term with children who will be going to the same school, so that your child has some familiar faces on their first day.
Children also have a strong sense of playing fair by this point, so if your child doesn’t know how to share toys, they’re likely to be playing on their own. Get them to practice sharing and taking turns by playing with other children - this could be a play date or at the playground. You could also try playing simple board games together to help them learn how to play with others.
6. My child seems really anxious about starting school, what do I do?
Reading stories about school or role-playing are both popular ways to introduce children to the new school environment and calm their nerves. You can use these to start a discussion with your little one by asking what they are most looking forward to, what they are worried about, etc.
It’s also a good idea to get your child involved in preparing for school, to make it a more exciting experience. For example, you could let them choose their own shoes (within reason!) or which lunch box they’d like. This will really make them feel grown-up and important.
7. I’m really anxious about my child starting school, what do I do?
If you’re feeling like you’ve forgotten something – a piece of uniform, a form you were supposed to sign – just remember you’re not expected to be perfect! And as always, take some time out for yourself to relax, however hectic preparing your child for school gets.
Primary school is an exciting step and there are lots of things your child will love about school - have a look at what a few reception pupils said their favourite thing about ‘big school’ is here:
Categorised in: parenting advice
This post was written by Anna Taylor