Getting ready for school

Transitioning a child to a new routine and environment can be a very big deal. My son Asher is starting big school in September so I’m preparing him for the big transition. For some children it can be a breeze but for him, a slow transition works best. He’s the sort of child that doesn’t adapt well to change and it can take him quite some time to settle into a new way of life. So I’m drip feeding him bitesize pieces of information about what’s to come with school and keeping him very involved in the process.

The chart in the picture is my work of art! I made it a few years back when he started nursery and it really helped because every day he knew what he was doing and I gave him the job of checking the weather. This chart is still on the back of our kitchen door and I will be updating it over the summer to reflect his new school routine.

His nursery have been brilliant in preparing parents for the big transition too. They held a school transitions workshop a few months back and not only talked about getting our children ready, but also getting ourselves ready too! I’ve got tissue at the ready!

What does being ‘big school ready’ mean?

To get a child ready for school, there are a few key areas:

  • Social & Emotional
  • Self Care 
  • Academic

Social & Emotional Skills

This is very much around communication and building relationships. It also incorporates resolving conflicts independently and being able to compromise. At this moment in time, Asher is not yet able to resolve all conflicts by himself. I’m working on it! My day job involves resolving conflicts, so I talk to Asher about feelings and how his actions can make somebody feel, but also how the actions of others make him feel and how we can move forward positively.

Boundaries also falls into the social and emotional category. At nursery, he has no issues with boundaries and listens to his teachers. I’m not quite sure what happens on the journey between nursery and home, but he tends to push boundaries quite a bit at home! Why do kids play up for their parents? Argh!

How does your child cope emotionally when being separated from you? Asher struggles with this because he loves to be at home! I don’t blame him to be honest because I too love the comfort of my own home. But as he is getting older and can express himself, he is able to better manage his emotions around separation although he rarely goes anywhere unless me or his Dad are present.

I am very particular about separation and never just ‘sneak out’. I remember when my Mum used to just ‘disappear’ (Yes I remember Mum…lol!!)!! It affected my trust in her and made me more clingy because I was worried she would just leave me. Even though I know Asher may get upset at times, if I will be away for a few hours, I never just leave him without explanation. Thats just me.

Self Care

I’m only just starting to trust him to go the toilet on his own. He tends to squirt all of the hand wash into the sink and wrap himself up like a mummy with the toilet roll (annoying!!). But in terms of self care, he is quite good at wiping his own bum and washing his hands. I really try to encourage him to do things by himself like getting dressed, brushing his teeth and putting on his own shoes. He never gets away without me adjusting his clothes or going over his teeth!

Self care skills are so important for when he starts school because realistically, his teacher will not be able to help 30 children put on their shoes, coats, PE kits etc. I’m sure the teachers will be very helpful where required, but ultimately, we have to let our children have a go at doing things for themselves.

My Mum on the other hand likes me to chaperone him to her toilet because she doesn’t want wee on the seat or down the side of the toilet. She has 3 grandsons!

Academic

Asher is a very keen learner, when he can still still for more than 5 minutes! I never force him to do anything that he is not enjoying but encourage him when he takes a keen interest in an activity. For example he is really interested in drawing, so I sit with him and we watch YouTube tutorials on how to draw his favourite TV characters.

Here’s his version of Topsy and Tim!

To get him ready academically for school, I do activities that involve maths, writing, reading, exploring and experimenting! Making mess has got to be one of his favourite activities. It drives me nuts! We are still working on the tidying up part! But on a whole, he is a very active and creative boy who loves to explore new things.

Writing his name is something he practices most days and he likes to use my laptop to type out his name. I incorporate learning into everyday life and ask him questions about things when we are out and about. When we go to the local Sainsbury’s, I tend to let him use the self service so he can get used to the process of paying and it helps with his maths skills too. He takes a keen interest in the world around him and asks A LOT of questions!

So, is my child big school ready?

In answer to this question, I would say it’s a work in progress and I hope that by the time his first day comes, I will have done all I can to get him ready for his first day at school. We have conversations around school being 5 days a week, school clothes, new friends, school food and after-school club. He is excited about wearing a school uniform so I have already bought this! We do activities at home and practice writing letters and numbers.

Overall I would say that he is excited to start school but a little apprehensive about what’s to come. Ultimately, you know your child best and what will work for them. Asher’s Dad and I are very keen to give our son the best start with school and we will be in very close contact with them. They have been brilliant so far and are willing to work with us to make his experience the best it can be.

Previous research from PACEY shows that almost three quarters (71%) of parents were anxious about their child starting school for the first time in September, with close to half of parents (48%) more anxious than their child about starting school. Let’s see what’s to come!! eek!!

Pacey have a brilliant ‘Steps to Starting School’ shown below. Check out their website for further information about how you can work with your child to transition them to school.

 

 

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