School readiness is a much-talked about subject, which can cause parents unnecessary panic as they try to cram everything in to the last few weeks before the start of term! Starting school is a big deal for children and parents, so let’s not make it any more stressful than it needs to be. During my 30 years of working with pre-school children I have developed top ten tips to make the start of reception run as smoothly as possible.
- Make everything exciting, from buying their uniform and school shoes to choosing their own pencil case and things to fill it.
- Talk about their school friends and if possible arrange play days before they start in September.
- Go past the school and talk positively about the teachers, their names and what a wonderful time they will have there.
- Play pretend school lunch time! Take turns being the dinner supervisor plating up the lunch while your child holds their own plate and lines up and then swap. This will give them confidence in holding the plate, taking turns and taking a full plate to the table. Remember this is fun, so don’t get cross if they drop something!
- If your child will be having a packed lunch, you can rehearse this too, it will help to develop confidence but also reassure you that they can open their own lunch box or containers they may have.
- Encourage your child each day to dress and undress by themselves, and encourage them put their clothes in a neat pile. Practice too with their PE pumps and school shoes. Top Tina tip: wear-in school shoes a week before school starts, as you don’t want any part of their day to be spoiled.
- Ensure your child is confident at going to the toilet independently and confidently, this is so important to ensure that they feel comfortable and avoid accidents.
- Chat about how they need to ask to go to the toilet, if they need a tissue to wipe their noses or if they need help with anything else. The teacher is always happy to help.
- Put the child’s name on everything, this simple step can stop children getting upset or parents getting cross because of lost property!
- Finally, and most importantly, Don’t Worry! I know this is a big step, but please don’t pass any negative feelings to your child, they know when you’re sad or worried. Enjoy the time you have together before they start school and as you wave them goodbye on that first morning, put on your best smile and confident voice as you say,” Have a lovely day and I’ll see you later”. Tina’s top tip: Avoid promising a gift or sweets for after school if they are good as they may see this as a bargaining tool..!