You think you know what type of parent you will be when your child has their first day at school. You’ll be the one cheering as they sail through the door. You won’t cry, because big deal? They are going to school! This is exciting stuff!
However, parenting has a knack of changing many assumptions you had about your parenting vision, before giving birth. Now you are wondering if they are ready for school and if you’ve done everything you can do ensure they are. Enter parenting guilt – isn’t it the worst!?
Never fear though, There’s a lot they’ll learn simply ‘on the job’, but in the lead up to their first day at primary school, there’s some things you can do that can make a difference.
5 practical ways to prepare your child for primary school
1. Talk about school
Talk about going to school in a positive way, drive past the school when you can and point out what fun things at school like the playground. This will help them feel confident and hopefully less anxious on their first day.
2. Get reading and get counting
If you’re not reading to your child nightly already then now is a great time to get started. Your child will be bringing home school readers before you know it, and if reading with you is already a habit then it’s one less thing you need to worry about.
Play card games like alphabet bingo, write letters in sand at the beach and count different coloured cars on road trips. Integrate learning the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy while you’re on holiday by making it fun. If your child can recognise and write their name it will help them find it on their books, work and lockers or tubs.
3. Talk about how to treat others and how you should be treated
Focus on praising your child for sharing, speaking nicely to others and tidying up. Discuss how it makes people feel when they are treated well. Try role-playing situations in a playground when children are playing cooperatively and when children aren’t. Encourage your child to think about what they would do in a situation where someone isn’t treating them well. How can they firmly ask the person to stop and how should they seek help?
4. Get health checks done and address any issues
Get health checks done on your child’s vision, hearing and anything else you may have concerns over. If they’re at kindergarten or daycare, chat to their teachers/carers about anything specific relating to your child and the transition to school.
5. Practise a loose, school-like schedule.
You don’t need to do this for long, but in the last week of the school holidays, start getting children up at the same time they need to get up to go to school. Don’t stop there though, get them dressed and going. Give snacks, lunch and containers that are the same that you will give them at school. Let them learn to zip and unzip their lunchbox and open and close their containers.
Lastly, try to relax. Find the positives in your own experiences of schooling that you can share with your child. They’ll love hearing about what you loved at school and hopefully, it will have them excited to experience and learn new things too on this next step of their childhood and educational journey!