Tips to prep pre-schoolers for school – from Sure Start

Written by admin

A little advance preparation can make a real difference and the first week at school a lot easier. You know you child best so tailor these strategies to suit you and your child, as you prepare for the big day. Here are our tips for a smooth start at school…

Practice going to School
Why not try a few practice runs to help, point out interesting sights or places familiar to your child. Notice the swings, slides, or other fun stuff that your think your child will like — and try them out together.

Describe what will happen on the first day
Keep in mind that a child starting school for the first time or going to a new school may have a hard time imagining what it will be like (You’ve been to school before, but they haven’t) They are likely to find the move from daunting. “Talking about the basic sequence of the day will help your child make a mental movie of what to expect. Children form pictures in their minds, and reviewing the process in detail will make things more familiar and less scary on the first day of school.” advises Diane Levin, Ph.D., Professor of Education at Wheelock College.

Ask your child compelling questions
Specific questions will help your child imagine what school will be like and help you talk about the fun stuff, think about what they are likely to enjoy and the hard stuff. You might ask:

  • “Is there anything that worries you about starting school?”
  • “What are you really looking forward to?”

Learn about the school drop-off policy
Find out about the policy for parents walking children into the classroom and how long you can stay. If you anticipate that your child will need extra time to adjust, talk to the teacher before school starts, if you can.

Give children control over what they can control
Offering simple choices may help calm nerves and encourage children to be excited. For example, if you pick out a new backpack or lunchbox, let your child choose the colour. If you shop for school supplies, let your child find the items in the store and check them off on your list. The day before school starts let your child choose clothes for the first day — maybe consider rewarding.

Plan ahead how you will say goodbye
Think about what your child needs in a goodbye. What will be most helpful — a quick goodbye, or five minutes of cuddle time with you? If your child finds separation really hard perhaps consider a keep sake they can put in their bag or a photo of mummy or daddy to keep in their bag.

Read books about starting school
Whether you’re going to a new school, class or setting, books about it will get children talking and feeling comfortable. Your Local Children Centre and Library will have a good selection you can borrow.

Practice putting on school clothes
For children getting changed for PE can be a little daunting, so practicing putting on socks and plimsolls, taking off jumpers and putting them back on, practice doing up trousers and summer dresses. Choose clothes with simple easy fastenings!

Expectations when a child starts school
We have worked with your local schools to put together a list of general tips and things to practice with your child in the weeks leading up to them starting. If any of them give you cause for concern then do get in touch with your school to talk about them.

Independence Skills

  • Can go to the toilet independently (can wipe their own bottom!)
  • Knows to wash their hands after going to the toilet
  • Can blow and wipe their own nose
  • Can dress independently with strategies for coping when jumpers are inside out etc.
  • Can do up their own coat and shoes
  • Can change into shorts and t-shirt and put on plimsolls and wellies
  • Can hang a coat on a peg
  • Familiar with being responsible for their own belongings
  • Familiar with leaving parent/carer
  • Can manage the food you put in their lunch box within reason

Social Skills

  • Can listen for a sustained period i.e. to a story or as part of a show and tell circle
  • Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly for certain activities
  • Familiar with following routines and keeping to boundaries
  • Willing to speak to others about needs and wants
  • Familiar with taking turns and sharing
  • Able to tidy up after an activity
  • Can follow simple instructions

Physical skills

  • Has experienced plenty of opportunities for development of gross and fine motor skills in preparation for holding a pencil at school
  • Can run, jump, skip and hop
  • Dressing and self-care skills as above.

For more advice visit your nearest Sure Start Centre Sure Start