Welcome back for part 3 and our top tips for emotionally preparing your child for starting primary school!
I don't know about you but I can't believe we are now only a few weeks away from September (I know some of you my have children starting sooner too). This will be my final instalment before the start of term so these tips are about helping your child to feel prepared, confident and ready for their first week 😊
Our top tips for August
1. School uniform
Support your child to feel empowered by allowing them to make choices about their school uniform if you can. E.g would they prefer a skirt or a pinafore? Which shoes do they like? Can they choose their own hair accessories? Not only does this make it a bit more exciting, giving choices helps children to feel more in control. This can also be something that you make part of their morning routine once they start school, for example, choosing the hair accessory they would like to wear that day (or which patch they would like to take if they have different ones!). For children who will be having packed lunches, choosing a lunch box or a water bottle can be lots of fun too.
2. Create a morning routine
Have a chat about what mornings will be like when they start school. Even better if you can have a go at trying the journey together as this really helps them visualise it so the first day isn't unfamiliar. Children thrive on routine and mornings can be tricky (for us grown ups too!) because there is often a lot going on and it can feel rushed to get out of the door on time. In can help if they know in advance what the routine will be every day and what the expectations are. This is something you can create together! E.g brush teeth, get dressed etc. For any of my lovely customers who have purchased patches you will have been given free access to "I am ready for School" by Be Happy Resources which includes a printable visual morning routine planner 🙌 The summer holidays is the perfect time to work through this activity journal together.
3. Support them to ask for help
Children might find it tricky at first to ask for help at school when they need it if they are not familiar with the adults. Some examples would be asking to go to the toilet or needing help to open a packet of food at lunch time. You could have a chat about who they can go to when they need help and what sort of things they might need help with. Or you could try role play and making a game out of it with little toy figures. Don't worry though, early years teachers and assistants are very good at spotting children when they need support with something, but this will just help your child to feel more confident when they start.
4. Play dates
I mentioned previously that it would be great to find out who is going to the same school as your child. Now would be the perfect time to have a play date or meet at the park if you can. Having a friendly face on the first day can really give your little one confidence 😊
5. Helping your child with fears and worries
If your child is anxious about starting school some of these things may be a little trickier, such as picking their school uniform or talking about their morning routine. You know your child best and if this feels like it might make them more anxious then adapt them a little so it doesn't feel so "full on". For example, choose their uniform and hair accessories for them but when they start school allow them to choose their favourite to wear that day.
Discuss their worries with them while they are feeling calmer, like when they are winding down for bedtime. Be careful not to minimise their fears (such as, by saying "you will be fine, don't worry"), instead tell them that you understand and believe how they feel. I personally find it helps if I use an example of when I have felt worried about something and how I dealt with it so they know they are not alone in having these feelings. Help them to work through their worries and come up with a plan together- e.g if they are anxious about making friends you can give them some basic scripts to try such as "can I play with you", and talk about what they can do if a child says no. This will help them feel a little more confident that even in a worse case scenario they will know what they can do.
You can also practice some calming and mindful techniques such as breathing exercises together. Be Happy Resources has some amazing printables in their hub for working through worries and anxiety, along with practical calming strategies.
We hope you have found some of these tips helpful, we will be sharing one last instalment after your children have started school in mid September. Sending loads of love and luck to you and your children for their first day at school! 😊