Top Tips for When Your Kids Start Primary School
Over 600,000 UK children head off to primary school for the first time each September. We all want them to come home on the first day grinning from ear to ear. We want to hear their bubbling excitement about what they’ve learned. We want their start at school to signal a lifelong love of learning and success. How can we ensure this happens? Read on to see our tips for starting school.
First Day at School Tips
Whether you’re looking forward to their first day at school with a cheeky bottle of fizz, or more likely to need the tissues for yourself, the all-important first day of school means change. Nothing will quite be the same again, and you’re now in to the world of permission slips, name tapes and reading schemes. How can you smooth the way for your child, and yourself?
Get the Starting School Basics Right
Nearly two-thirds of primary school staff have experienced an increase in children having toileting accidents at school in recent years. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to experience the aroma near some infant school toilets, you’ll know the problem isn’t just with full on accidents. The most important of the first day of school tips is to ensure they are confidently toilet trained. Yes, accidents happen, but give your child the groundwork they need.
Other groundwork needs to be put in to self-care too. One teacher and an assistant aren’t going to get much teaching done if all thirty children need help with putting on shoes and doing up coats.
Ensuring children are prepared practically, socially, and emotionally, for school is important. Reception lays the groundwork for learning how to learn. Children who are capable of the practicalities of Reception life are the ones steaming ahead in to their school career. This means toileting and dressing, but also knowing how to share, recognise their own name, tidying up, and other life skills. Only then can you consider any other additional skills.
More Building Blocks – What Else Does My Child Need to Know?
Starting school is not a competition. Education is a marathon not a sprint, and the purpose of school is to learn and develop. Do not panic if your child can’t yet count, write their name, or speak 15 different languages and play 5 different instruments like Johnny next door.
Address the practicalities. You might care deeply about the school’s Ofsted rating, but your child only cares where they put their coat, where the toilets are, and what to do if there’s a problem. They need to know how to open their yoghurt pot or how to use a knife and fork. Take the time to ensure they have the answers to their questions. There are lots of books out there that can help, such as the fantastic Usborne Starting School Sticker Book. Rehearse the morning routine, and make sure they know what to expect.
Talking about reading: no-one is going to expect your child to be able to read when they start school. If they can, that’s great, but it’s far from the norm. However, what you can do is start them on the right path by fostering a love of reading through reading to them. Reading together boosts literacy, so invest some time and enjoy books together. If you’re not sure where to start, then check out these brilliant tips.
Don’t Forget to Prepare Yourself
In all the angst to get your soon-to-be primary child ready, don’t forget to prepare yourself. Just around the corner lurks a world that requires a PhD in organisation to conquer. If you don’t want to be “that parent” come Victorian Dress-Up Day, or the day you forgot the plastic bottle for rocket-making, or the ‘something blue’ for aliens week, and the 50p for the latest cake sale, then you need a system in place. Diaries, whiteboards, whatever works for you, but do it so you don't end up frazzled and feeling guilty.
Don’t underestimate the importance of being on time. Children who are late often find it harder to settle into the day, and can feel anxious before things even start. Similarly, 2 minutes feels like a lifetime to a 4-year old waiting at pick-up after everyone else has gone.
And at the End of the First Day
Congratulate yourself on your parenting so far. This is a new stage. To finish up our first day of school tips, do make sure you’ve got a snack on hand if you don’t want to be dealing with an explosive tearful chimp the moment you get in the door.
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