These stories help to keep an open conversation about school and will get your child ready by giving them the perfect opportunity to discuss anything that might be concerning them. The new school year can be an anxious time, but knowing exactly what will happen each day can help to ease those worries.
2) Role Play
Role Play is a great way to expose children to new situations. It could be a trip to the dentist or their first time on an airplane. Whatever the occasion, going through some typical scenarios allows your child to build an understanding.
You could grab some teddy bears and lay them on the carpet for registration time.
Another great strategy is to pack your child’s lunch in their school lunch box or prepare a school dinner style meal and take the time to prepare your child for things like opening their own lunch box or cutting with a knife and fork.
You could even role-play the walk to the school, getting dressed for a P.E. lesson, going to the toilet and anything else your child is likely to encounter.
3) Play the name game!
When a child starts at school, being able to recognise their own name is a key skill. They will need it to find their peg, their tray and their books.
Here are a few games to help:
Write their name on several post-it notes along with some other random names (perhaps names of other family members). Hide them all around the garden and ask them to go on a scavenger hunt to find all the post-it notes with their name.
Grab six sheets of A4 paper and lay them on the floor. Write their name on one page and other words on the others. Ask your child to run and jump on the correct page. Now, get them to close their eyes, shuffle the pages and repeat.
Write their name and other words on a large sheet of paper (you could use the back of an old roll of wallpaper). Give them a paintbrush and get them to cross out all the wrong words, leaving only their name showing.
Write your child’s name across the pavement along with lots of other words. Give your child a spray gun or hose pipe and ask them to wash off all of the words showing their name.
Hang a string across the room or garden (like a child-sized washing line). Write random letters on post-it notes and hang them on the line with pegs. Ask your child to go along and collect all of the letters they will need to create their name.
Write their name on the side of the bath with bath crayons. Wash them off.
If you are a Catkin Club member, there are plenty of opportunities for play such as the one shown in the image.
4) Find a summer group or class
There are still several weeks of summer to go and it certainly isn’t too late to find a playgroup to attend. These are a great opportunity for your child to practice their friend-making skills and get some experience of being around new people and new experiences.
The great thing is that you will be there with them, so you can take the opportunity to model things like introductions, sharing and tidy up time. For example, Arlo often struggles to speak to new children although he is happy to play with them. I will therefore support him by modelling how he can introduce himself. For example: ‘I see you’re playing cars with this little boy. Do you know his name? You could say ‘Hi, I am Arlo. What’s your name?’ This models the vocabulary needed to introduce himself to a new person.
It can be really tricky for children to learn these skills without adult modelling, so this is a really important strategy. You can even model saying please, thank you and excuse me as you navigate through the playgroup.
If you can, try and find a group close to your child’s school because you might meet someone who will be in their class, so they have a friend when they start primary school.
5) Practice getting dressed independently
When your little one starts school, there will be regular opportunities to get dressed independently, such as P.E. lessons. It is therefore important to ensure they can get dressed and undressed independently.
Here are a few of my top tips you can use to help your child:
If your child is struggling to pull on socks, practise by giving them a hair scrunchy and asking them to pull it up their leg. This teaches them how to hook the top of the scrunchy over their toes and up their leg.
Use a doll or bear to practise putting clothes on. This is a good way to learn which items of clothes need to go on first and how to check for things like making the waistband of their trousers straight.
Use button or zip boards to practise these skills.
Take your time and provide a suitable environment. This might be a small, child sized wardrobe and stool for them to sit on.
Choose items with clear markers to show the front and back. Children will find it much easier to put on clothes with things like strings in the front or printed t-shirts. It helps them to figure out which way around they should go!
- Turn it into a fun game or race. For example, time them getting their socks on and then see if they can beat their own time the following day.
6) Do a trial run of a school day
New routines can be daunting not just for children but for adults too. One thing I will definitely be doing is a trial run of our morning routine. I will set my alarm for the time I think I need to get up and follow all of the morning steps as if it were a real school/work day. This will help me to adjust as needed – if I felt super rushed, I know I need to get up earlier whereas if I had plenty of time to spare, I can have an extra ten minutes in bed.
Not only will I go through the process of getting ready – including getting school uniforms on and ready to go – but I will make the walk or journey to school so we can see exactly what will happen.
This is definitely my biggest tip as making that journey to school let’s everyone know exactly what to expect and come the big day to go back to school, it will all feel familiar.
Bonus Tip: If you do this and get your little one all dressed in their school uniform, why not take a few first day snaps? Not only will you have more time and feel less rushed, but you will know exactly how and where to pose them for the real day, saving you a ton of time in the process!
So, there you have it! 6 ways to get ready for school so you can crush that first day back!