Starting school is a big change for many children and their families. Before having my daughter, I was a reception teacher. The beginning of school is something I am very familiar with and a time of year I very much looked forward to.
Although, as Floss prepared to start reception in September 2021, it felt very different. Different as for once I was on the other side as a parent but also the world was a very different place.
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School Settling In
All our lives were topsy-turvy to the ‘norm’ as we were in the throws of a pandemic. I know my daughter certainly felt the impact of the lack of settling in sessions.
It’s lovely to hear that schools are working towards their usual starting school arrangements while children can hopefully benefit from some of the work done by schools during the pandemic such as online videos of spaces in the school and staff.
There’s excitement at starting school yet there can often be anxiety and uncertainty for both caregivers and child. Often the anxiety of the family members can be greater than that experienced by the child.
School Ready – What Does That Mean?
When teaching, parents often worried about making sure their child was ‘school ready’ and what that meant in practical terms.
What it doesn’t mean is that your child needs to be able to write their name, know letters, read and count; these are some of the skills they will learn at school.
Let me share with you a checklist of things that will help your child be school ready and more confident ready to start school.
Getting Ready For school Checklist
- Help your child to recognise their own name – being able to recognise their name will help them identify their peg label, book bag, clothes etc. They don’t need to be able to write their own name.
- Learn the name of their teacher/s – if you can, get a photo of the teacher/s for your child (you can often find these on the school website). You feel much more confident asking for help if you know someone’s name.
- Use the toilet independently – don’t forget being able to wipe for ones and those number twos! If you know your child will struggle with toileting and may have accidents please don’t worry; reception teachers will be very used to this. It’s great to have a discrete little pack of spares and some wipes you can pack into your child’s book bag. Make sure you let the teacher know so that you can work together to support your child.
- Peel fruits – being able to peel fruit is useful as children get free fruit each day in reception and KS1. A top tips for kids when peeling bananas is to peel the from the bottom. You get a lot less mushed banana that way!
- Use a knife and fork – reception and key stage 1 children get free school meals. Helping your child to learn to use cutlery will mean they can eat their dinner swiftly without having to wait for an adult to support them. They’ll be out to play sooner!
- Dress and undress – independently for physical education.
- Fasten and unfasten – coats and shoes. Consider carefully what clothes and shoes you purchase. Don’t get shoes with laces if your child isn’t ready to tie them up.
Starting School Books
As many of you already know, I’m a huge bookworm and truly believe that books have a very powerful way of helping our children to explore how they feel. They give us opportunities to talk to our children about how they are feeling, often through discussing characters in the books.
Lots of books are designed to touch on aspects of the school day, but in a really fun way. Many of these books would also be really lovely to share with children preparing to start at nursery or preschool too.
There are so many great books to help you talk to your child about feelings. Some books will look at particular emotions and situations that your child may find themselves in.
One set of books that are so good for helping children to explore how they feel and what different emotions feel like and when they might happen are Anna Llenas Colour Monster books.
Tom Percival Big Bright Feelings for Little People
Tom Percival has also written a superb collection of diverse books to help children with understanding different aspects of how they feel or how other people may feel.
Worrysaurus is a favourite. Little Worrysaurus has lots of worries, but he’s got a great way to help him with his little tin of treasures. Often schools won’t let children bring things in from home (to be honest it can be a total nightmare especially when they inevitably get lost).
However, if your child would benefit from having something special with them from home one little idea is to stitch a little piece of special fabric inside one of their pockets. This way if they need a little reminder of those safe feelings of home they can reach in their pocket and feel their special fabric – a little secret from home.
For most children starting in reception they will gradually begin to do some short activities alongside lots of wonderful learning through play.
These activities may be as a whole class or in small groups. Activities may include things such as: singing songs together with actions and maybe numbers (5 Little Speckled Frogs for example), it may be sharing a story together, snack time together while talking about their weekend. You may already do these types of things, but if not they might be a lovely activity to do together before starting school.
School will be a busy day for your little one. So many new experiences that can excite them, exhaust them and leave them needing to process.
Something that worked well for us was having a small snack ready for when we picked Floss up from school. Might be worth a try.
As parents, we want to know how their day has been. Try and follow their lead. If they want to chat away great, if they need a little quiet time, go with it.
Sharing Books to Aid Talk
Sometimes using some of the books about school and feelings can help give children an opportunity to talk should they wish to. Actually, any book would be great for a little quality time together and to connect after your separate day.
If you’d like to find out what your child will be learning in phonics and how to support them at home when they start school head over to the phonics section of the site here.
Children will be coming home with books from school – often book banded books that are levelled. If you’d like to find out more about book bands head here and for tips on how to make more out of these books check out this post.
WHSmith have a great range of stationery often with lots of offers on – link here.
Good luck to all school starters – I hope you have a magical time.