The Summer term of school is a period of mixed emotions for children and parents. For some it is full of excitement, thinking of starting a new year or moving school. But for many, it can be an anxious time, particularly for parents that have children starting school for the first time.
Research by PACEY highlighted that 71% of parents are anxious about their children starting school and 48% of parents are more anxious than their child. One in four parents were seeking advice on how to prepare their children for school and avoid potential tears.
To ensure your child is ‘school-ready’, try out some of these activities:
- Play school – get your child familiar with the ‘physical’ environment of school – use as many opportunities as possible to take the journey, as well as visits to the school. Talk to them about the excitement of starting school, your own early memories and have them looking forward to their big day.
- Start a school diary – as a way of sharing what they did, what they enjoyed and to keep them excited about school.
- School uniform – create excitement by getting them to wear it around the house, play pretend school and label their school things in preparation for starting school.
- Organise playdates – this takes the pressure of friendships away from an already stressful time of a new environment and unfamiliar adults.
- Encourage independence – it is never too early to start this at home. You are your child’s first teacher and helping children become self-sufficient will make it much easier for them at school. Simple things like getting dressed and washing hands or the process of asking to go to the toilet can all make for an easier experience when they do this at school.
- Read with them – this is a habit that is best formed ahead of school, not only for the moments of shared joy it brings you and your child, but also to reinforce reading as an enjoyable experience outside of school.
Every child wants to make their parents proud, be aware of this motivation by praising them for being the best that they can be. But also be mindful of symptoms of stress – such as tummy ache, headache and excuses for not wanting to go to school. To go from the comfort of home and family to unfamiliar territory of school and new people is a big step. Schools can do an amazing job of helping with this transition, but ultimately the confidence to deal with change will always start with home.