How can I help my child succeed in school?It's that time of year when the holidays are drawing to an end and we begin to think about getting back to normal with school starting soon. For some, this time of year is full of excitement but for others there is apprehension about the unknown ahead - and that's the parents I'm talking about, not the children!
If your child is about to embark on their school life voyage there are certain things that you can do to help them in the early stages of transition from nursery to school. As a Primary Teacher for 17 years and having spend years of my teaching career in the Early Years your input as a Parent is crucial.
Whilst I'm sure that you are doing most of these things already, here is a list to help your child reach their full potential at school.
1 Give them opportunities to dress themselves. School life is so busy and often a teacher can be in a class on their own with 25 kids so they don't have time to dress every child! Make sure that your child can take their school uniform off, turn it the right way round and put it back on. This will make it so much easier for them when it is PE time and they have to get changed.
2 Label everything. (CalEli Gifts has lots of lovely personalised labels!) All school uniform looks alike and you have just spent a fortune on uniform and other school items that you don't want them to go missing. As a teacher, I would often have 6 or 7 school jumpers left at the end of the day with no names on them. It used to make me laugh when the kids would sniff the jumpers to try and identify the washing powder that their family used.
3 Make lunch time as easy as possible for your child. If they decide to have packed lunches ensure they can open and close everything on their own. Don't put in squirty yoghurts or you will be washing their uniform every night.
4 Read a story to them every day, ideally at bedtime. Ask them question about the story, get them to predict what might happen next. This will really help their language development.
5 No matter where you are, in the car, whilst they are having a bath etc practise counting with them. Start with 0-5 at first and make sure they can say it forwards, backwards, know the number before and after. They should be really concrete with this before you progress onto 0-10 then 0-20. Too often I've heard parents say "They are really good at Maths. They can count to 100" but they have no concept of these numbers they have just memorised an order.
6 I would never suggest that parents teach letter formation. Leave it to the teachers. However, if your child is showing an interest, please do not print words in capital letters out for them to copy. Use lower case letters - words are not formed with upper case letters throughout and this can really confuse kids later on.
7 Sing nursery rhymes with your children. This has huge benefits for their literacy. It will really help with their rhyming knowledge and you will find that their reading will also progress much faster. It is also lots of fun and a great way to bond with your child.
8 Make sure that your child has a good bedtime routine. They will be shattered after the first few days of school so will need to get plenty of sleep to recharge. I have taught children in the past that had such bad bedtime routines, they were still wide awake at midnight which meant by 9.30am in school they were teary and shattered. You know yourself that if you are tired, you don't function nearly as well.
9 Relax - and that's for your! Your kids will love school, make friends, adore their teacher and have wonderful memories. If you are nervous on Day 1 of school, your child can sense it and will start to panic. Be excited for them and they will be fine (and so will you!)