Starting in September 2017
Starting school is an exciting time for you and your child but we know that it can be a daunting too. This page has been designed to provide advice and materials to support you and your child well before their first day at school. We hope you find the information useful.
Firstly, don’t worry!
Your child doesn’t need to be able to read, write or do sums before they start school. Children start school with a wide range of abilities and our teachers are skilled at helping children progress at their own level.
What’s most important is that you and your child have fun together in those preschool months and years – sharing stories, singing songs, playing games and talking about anything and everything.
We hope these top tips below will help you prepare your child for starting at our school.
Some things to try…
Chat with your child about starting school.
Look at our website together and talk about the pictures.
Find photos of you and other family members at school, and chat about happy memories from your own school
Did you know that 80% of a child’s language acquisition comes from stories and books? Give your child a head start by frequently sharing stories with them. Why not register with the library in Oakham or visit the mobile library van which visits camp?
If your child seems anxious about school, try focusing on the things they’ll like best – maybe the sandpit, the bikes, painting and creating or meeting new friends.
Practise the school morning routine, including getting dressed and eating breakfast in time to leave.
Practise the school run so that you’re both prepared for the school morning journey.
If your child has a favourite security toy or blanket, try to get them used to being without it during the day.
If you have arranged childcare before or after school, talk this through with your child. If the childcare arrangement is new, try a settling-in period for this before the school term starts.
Play some fun listening and doing games to help with following instructions. ‘Simon says’ or ‘Can you find?’ games are great for this.
Some things to avoid…
It’s natural to feel nervous about your child starting school, but remember that your child can easily pick up on your emotions. Try to be relaxed and positive, rather than showing your own nerves.
Try not to make comments such as “I hated school” or “I was rubbish at school”, which might give your child a negative attitude.
Try not to bombard your child with endless talk about school – treating it in a matter-of-fact way rather than focusing on the “big step ahead” will help soothe an anxious child.
Don’t over-hype school, as your little one may feel let down or mistrustful if it doesn’t live up to expectations!
If your child has already spent time in a childcare or preschool setting, they’re probably already well on the way to having the social and practical skills they need to succeed at school. They’re used to spending time apart from you, mixing with other children, taking instructions from and communicating with other adults, taking some responsibility for tidying up after themselves and looking after their own belongings.
Don’t worry if your child hasn’t attended a childcare setting or preschool. Playing with other children, whether friends and family members, or other children at the park or soft play area, is all good practice for forming friendships with classmates at school. Often children who don’t know one another will make friends very easily, but if your child struggles, teach them some useful phrases such as “can I join in?” or “do you want to share?”
If you already know some other children who will be starting at our school this year too, why not organise a play date or outing together? As well as being beneficial for the youngsters, it’s helpful for you to be able to chat about your own feelings and anxieties with their parents, who may be feeling the same.
As the start of term approaches, try to get into the school routine, so your child gets used to getting up, going to bed, and having meals and snacks at the times they will on school days.
Bath time and stories instead of TV and tablet games all help children to wind down before bedtime.
Making time in the evening to chat about your day for 10 minutes can be a lovely routine for sharing fun times and any worries.
Nutritious meals and plenty of sleep will help them to concentrate, learn and thrive at school. If your child has naps, it would be wise to try phasing this out. This should be more manageable for them if they have a good bedtime routine. Maybe offer a down time after lunch rather than a nap.
Can do attitude…!
Help to develop your child’s independence and a ‘can do’ attitude by giving them a few everyday responsibilities as they get closer to school age. Perhaps they could lay the table, feed a pet or put their own laundry away.
It will make life easier for your child (and of course our staff) if your child can master these self-care skills before they start school:
Going to the toilet
Support your child to be confident about getting to the loo in time and wiping properly, using toilet paper rather than moist wipes.
Do you have a different phrase for going to the toilet at home? Near the time let the class teacher know what this is to ensure that we understand what your child is trying to ask.
Washing their hands
Chat about the importance of good handwashing with soap and water, especially after going to the toilet or handling animals. A good way of showing how germs can linger is to let your child cover their hands in paint (pretend germs!) and then try to wash it all off.
Using a tissue
Introduce your child to the routine of ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ – catching their sneeze or runny nose in a tissue, putting it in the bin straightaway, then washing hands to kill germs. Some children find nose-blowing difficult, so play games to practise nose control – blowing a feather into the air, for example.
Dressing and undressing
Let your child practise putting on their school clothes, taking them off and folding them neatly in preparation for PE lessons, especially if there are fiddly fastenings such as shirt buttons and zips. Clothes with elastic bands and shoes with Velcro® are easier to handle for young children. Teach your child tricks such as putting labels at the back, holding cuffs to stop sleeves riding up, and wrinkling tights to put toes in first.
Children having school dinners need to be able to use a full-sized knife and fork and carry a tray. If you think your child will be bringing a lunchbox, make sure they can open it as well as any containers and packets inside.
Get your child into the habit of hanging their coat up, putting their toys away, clearing the table, and so on, to prepare them for doing these things at school. Why not turn it into a game?