A child’s first days at school can be daunting, emotional and stressful...but that's usually just for the parents! With the right preparation, this big step can be all that it should be for children; a natural transition at a time when they are ready for more structure and stimulation and the start of a really big adventure.
LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN
A good primary school will offer opportunities for children to visit so that the environment and the staff become familiar. At Croydon High Junior School, in Selsdon, they offer regular Taster sessions for all year groups and find that this is a very good way of reassuring both parents and children.
There is plenty that parents can do at home to help make sure children are comfortable and confident enough to adapt to this new phase in their lives. A key thing is that parents actually talk to their children! It sounds obvious, but there is a worrying trend towards replacing real conversation with virtual conversation, with young children spending time on-line or watching DVDs that do very little to develop their social skills. Head of Croydon High Junior School, Sophie Bradshaw, says "It really doesn't matter what parents talk to their children about, just holding a conversation in itself is important. But encouraging them to give opinions and explain why they think or feel something is invaluable and really helps a child to begin to formulate their own ideas."
Discussing day to day events is something that small children will do a lot at school and encouraging them to do it at home will increase their confidence significantly. Reading stories together is a perfect opportunity to develop conversation skills; discussing the characters, asking questions that encourage extended thinking, such as "what would happen if “... or “what do you think he felt when that happened”? Developing the child's natural interest in nature and the environment can lead to wonderful chats and often allows adults to appreciate fully some of the things we take for granted. Seeing things through a child's eyes can be a lovely experience!
Games are a good way of developing interaction and encouraging small children to really use their imagination in play, both when they are on their own and with others, is invaluable. Matching and sorting games encourage observation and develop all important pre-reading skills and also introduce ideas about healthy competition and being a good loser! Encouraging good manners and respect for others is an important message to communicate to even the youngest children and will help ensure they endear themselves to their new teachers and classmates! A child who will not share or who never says please or thank you will learn quickly that it is hard to make friends.
Encouraging independence in dressing and using cutlery at meal times is important. Reception teachers are well used to helping little ones, but will be looking to encourage this sort of independence as soon as possible. It also gives children a sense of achievement and most are delighted to say "I can do it myself".
FEED THEIR IMAGINATIONS!
Schools will expect that children are toilet trained, but equally will be prepared for accidents and will actively encourage the children to 'go'. Hygiene is obviously a factor, particularly when children are in close contact, so it is important that children are aware of the importance of hand washing.
When a child starts school they will usually feel extremely tired from the whole experience of learning and seeing so many new things. It is a good idea to establish a routine, which includes an early bedtime, as early as possible so that when term starts they will be more ready to accept structure and a more regimented approach to their day.
According to Sophie Bradshaw, the best thing you can do to prepare your child for school and to support them throughout their schooldays is to really appreciate them. "Value your child’s opinions and the things that they achieve and give lots of praise and encouragement whenever they try hard at something.
Children with high self-esteem believe that everything is possible!"
CROYDON HIGH TEACHERS BELIEVE IN GIVING LOTS OF PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT FROM DAY ONE
FOR DETAILS OF THEIR NEXT TASTER DAY PLEASE CONTACT Clare Macmillan on 020 8260 7508 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org