All parents know that it’s a very short period between the moment you bring your new-born home to the time when you need to start thinking about preparation for primary school. What every parent can do is take little steps towards developing their child’s emotional competence, independence and social skills which have proven, over time, to be much more important than academic skills.
Once the school starts, your child will need to follow a certain routine and rules, interact positively with other kids, sit and pay attention while others speak and learn how to wait for their turn. It may sound overwhelming at first, but it only takes a little effort and lots of consistency in following the tips listed here to get your child ready for school.
Attend a school orientation session
Starting school is a big change for the child so it makes sense to attend an orientation session at your local school so both you and your child could meet other kids who will also be starting school, the teachers, rules and expectations. This will be a big help in getting ready for what will be happening at school on a daily basis.
When you meet some of the kids, you can also organise a play date with them over the school holiday period so the kids can get to know each other even more and adjust more easily. Friendships and supportive relationships need time to develop so these playdates will be worth the effort in the long run.
Talk about school responsibilities in a positive manner
A child who reads becomes an adult who thinks so developing a love of reading in your child is a great investment in their future academic success. Books are an excellent way to get prepared for school as it helps kids to pay attention and teaches them to see the world through someone else’s eyes and when they share books, they also develop their social skills.
Help your kids understand not only the importance of reading but also of caring about their things and respecting other kids’ property. Teach them how to pack and unpack their school bags and decide together what type of marking you’ll put on their bag so they can easily tell it apart from others. Let it become a positive responsibility so once they start school, it will become a routine.
Consider enrolling your child in an education centre
In addition to your personal efforts at home, you might also consider enrolling your child in an early education centre which provides support for all areas of children’s development and teaches them necessary skills and boosts their confidence to start school.
For a couple of hours every day, the kids learn how to listen, contribute to conversations, sit still and engage in a variety of activities. They will also participate in a phonics programme for kids that are designed so they build a solid foundation of a fluent reader and accurate speller. The kids will learn sounds and letter names, digraphs and trigraphs and various complex word groups that will help them identify, spell and read each word and later pronounce it correctly and read with clarity.
Getting organised and buying school supplies is a great way to get your child involved and allow them to feel in charge. Go supply shopping together, label school books and notebooks, flip through books and talk about subjects they'll be studying and your child will get a sense of ownership over the things and feel more confident about starting school.
You should also set up a designated study space for your child as kids get easily distracted. It’s great if your child has their own desk in their room but even if the spot is in a busy common area of your home, include basic workstation features – a desktop with papers and writing supplies, lighting and no surrounding clutter.
Help your child to stay organised – get a tray for school-related papers where they can keep homework they got and the one they already finished, and a daily/weekly homework planner that lists all the assignments so you can both keep track of their responsibilities.
Starting school is a milestone in your child’s life and it’s important to make it a positive event. Talk to your child about every aspect of it, ask about their feelings and keep them involved in the preparation process. This will help your child feel important and valued which will develop their self-confidence and allow them to start their new chapter in life with optimism and enthusiasm.