Headteacher Magazine, guide to services and products for UK Schools
Whilst you face the reality of your baby growing up you are likely to be an emotional mess, but knowing they are going into the classroom properly prepared can help to soften the blow. The most important thing is that your child is happy. This will help them feel confident in trying new things and asking questions. Putting an emphasis on having a go and encouraging curiosity and enthusiasm will stand your child in good stead at school. It is hard to know where your child will excel before they start school so try to avoid steering them towards one thing or another, as they are unlikely to love it if it isn’t something they have naturally gravitated towards.
What They Need To Know
The first taste of formal schooling also means your child will be faced with targets for the first time. Getting them in to a stage where they are ready to learn means getting them confident and independent in the classroom. Small things like independent toileting, being able to get a coat on and off, and having the ability to sit still and concentrate for small periods of time will help them in a classroom environment.
Socialising is important at every level of schooling, so encourage your child to make friends and give them tips on how to do this. By expanding friendship groups, your child will also develop new skills and interests.
Literacy and numeracy are obviously important, but all children will start school at different levels. Ideally, try to encourage them to count to 20 and recognise and write their own name. Using street signs, house numbers and posters will encourage your child to recognise letters and numbers. When embarking on learning to read, try to keep it as a fun activity and focus on the positives more than the negatives to encourage their enthusiasm.
It is easy to believe that the youngest children in the year are at a disadvantage but this is often not something to worry about. It allows brighter young children to excel and struggling older children to feel comfortable.
The First Days
When talking to your little one about school, it is important not to project your own anxieties. Focus on the big adventure ahead and try to make as many visits as you can to allow the child to familiarise themselves with the space. Knowing where they are going on the first day will take away a lot of the fear as long as you are not stood at the door sobbing.
Whilst you will be desperate to know every detail o their day, you will be lucky if they tell you what they had for dinner. Resist the temptation to push them for information, they are likely to be exhausted so let them tell you what they want, when they want. Rest and gentle support are top of the menu for home time.
Once the novelty wears off, it is likely they will go through a phase of not wanting to go. This will pass in time, but if you are concerned, make sure that you are comfortable talking to the teachers or the head about any worries you may have. Building a relationship between home and school is vital to encourage your little one to talk about school successes at home, and have them discussing personal triumphs in class.
Whilst we are all nervous about our children starting school, it is the first step to them flourishing as an individual and finding their own strengths.
Mark Burns is a Director of Babaloo, a baby and children’s clothes retailer, with a wide range of clothing and accessories for children.
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