How to Prepare for Prep in 2020
Starting Primary School can be a big step for all children, whether they have been doing 5 long days of child care or the traditional kindergarten routine. Change of daily routine, location, start/finish times, change of friendships and educators can all exhaust children quickly while their minds and little bodies adjust and settle in. Often, most primary schools break the early weeks up with a shorter week, for example, with Wednesdays off or shorter days all week during the transition period.
Here’s some tips to help make the settling process a little bit smoother:
You should get an email or letter in the mail to attend. Try to make time to attend this with your child, and if you need to, consider a primary parent or carer taking an annual leave day. On this day try to allow extra time to get ready so the morning starts with minimal rush. Your child might not remember much about their visit with so much to take in but they will remember how they felt. Whilst most kids will naturally want to frolic off on new adventures and join into activities, some just take a little more time. If you are still worried after school starts and a few weeks in your child seems to still be struggling, don’t fear asking for some time to chat with your child’s teacher. (more about how to make time to chat with your child’s teacher later)
Before school starts
Talk to your child about the orientation day you attended as a child, focus on the enjoyable parts and how they must be looking forward to going back to start school. Listen to how they respond and show you understand any concerns they might have. Were they shown a special spot to put their school bag? Where they might sit or maybe there was a special play ground that they are looking forward to playing in at lunch times. Your child may raise concerns with you, which is why it is important to listen. Explain you will be there for them to help them to work through their worries. Maybe tell them about a story about when you started something new and felt butterflies in your tummy, how you were able to alleviate your worries and let them know you are here to listen and support them as they go through school.
Before starting school, talk to your kindergarten teacher or educator about any specific concerns you may have. Some children appear to have learning difficulties, but often in these situations it is found that the child has a slight vision impairment or alternatively has hearing difficulties. Immunisations are normally kept by your kindergarten or childcare and are also requested from the primary school as part of their application. Talk to your GP about other immunisations they may recommend, such as meningococcal.
Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds
We all have a child who is a terrible eater at one stage or another. But often these fussy eaters will always have one or two favourite healthy foods – read - bananas, strawberries and cheese!! It might feel like they will never grow out of this phase but trying to always have these items lunchbox ready will help your child to have the energy they need to stay alert and happy. Once your child starts school, ask them what the other children are eating.
NUDE FOODS!! Most schools are now practically wrap and rubbish free and although this is a daunting task to think about, there are some amazing bento style lunch boxes available. Some have a few different trays you can buy for a sandwich or bento style, but we love the all-in-one option shown above where the same tray is interchangeable. You save money on costs to buy additional trays and it also brings the minimalist mums “joy” of less cupboard space used! What’s wonderful about them is the leakproof silicone seals which allow you to pack a fruit salad next to a sandwich without worrying about leakage!
Mornings can be busy enough without the thought of making it out the door and off to school before the bell rings! We’re trying to set a good example here, right? 😊
As busy as the nights are, preparing the night before (including lunches) can help take the pressure off. Placing your child’s school uniform in the same place each night so in the morning your child can locate and start to dress themselves is a good start. In the early days of starting school, it’s unlikely they will be able to fully get dressed independently. Maybe they can change their own underwear or put on their pants? Start with something manageable and as the year progresses have a goal that they can fully dress themselves. Have hairbrushes and ties easy to locate too! Try to set a rule that there is no before school television until they are ready. This is likely to speed them up!
For parents, this can also be a challenge with shirts to iron – trying to change your routine too can be challenging but try to do all adult needs the night before then setting the alarm for your shower before kids rise can set the tone for your whole day to be that little bit calmer.
- To your existing educator, about your child’s school readiness and things you can do at home to assist your child.
- To your new school about how you can engage with your child’s learning to keep them at a steady pace and help with their needs
- To friends and families that have started school recently, maybe you’re at the park and there is an older child you could have a conversation with.
- Your child about their feelings
- Your child about who will be picking them up and stranger danger article here
Talking to your child’s teacher:
Most teachers want their pupils to thrive and are normally very emotionally adept at picking up children who are struggling at school both in their friendships or learning. However, the old rule remains, mum knows best! If you need to talk to your child’s teacher, ensure you make a time! Most teachers are available via email and sending a meeting request with a brief explanation in case they might need to prepare something for you will always be appreciated.
Start and importantly, the finish time:
Leave extra time to get to the school pick up. Arriving a few minutes early will definitely prevent a little bit of anxiety for your child. If you know you are going to be late or unable to be there, decide for a listed carer to pick them up and make sure the teacher explains this to your child in advance to pick up time so your child can manage their feelings.
Most of us will fondly remember either having a buddy or being one themselves. It’s a special relationship and a role for older and younger kids to experience. If your school hasn’t informed you of a buddy system, ask ahead of the year so you can tell your child which should add some extra excitement to look forward to, all while creating a sense of community in the school.
On a final note, make the experience an exciting milestone for your child in many ways as you prepare. Whether it be shopping for school uniform or for new school shoes, focus on of all the things they have to look forward to. It’s normal for both parents and children to feel unsure of how to adjust to new challenges but in time it will become the new norm. We hope you thoroughly enjoyed our advice for kids starting school. Good luck, from a mum going though just that right now too!