How to get your child ready for school

Getting your child "ready for school" doesn't mean that they will be able to read, write and know all their number bonds for the first day of school! It means that you are helping them to have good social skills, show them how to be more independent, how to cope emotionally and encourage them to have a passion to learn new things.

There are so many simple things that you can do with them that will not only be fun but will help them progress so much quicker when they start a more formal education.

1 Develop their fine motor skills. You can do lots of activities that will help to build up their muscles in their hands and fingers e.g. building with lego, playing with dough, threading, cutting (make sure you show them how to use the scissors safely!), painting, drawing, holding a knife and fork correctly. The list is endless. I used to use cheerios and a piece of dried spaghetti to help develop my son's fine motor skills. I would pick a number between 1 and 10 and he would have to pick up that amount of cheerios and carefully place them on the spaghetti without it breaking. He loved this and I actually used this when teaching too as it was so beneficial. 

2 Allow them to be independent! Show them how to take off and on their clothes and shoes. Make sure everything is labelled and that they can recognise their own name or the label that you have used. (Personalised items such as pencils, pencil cases etc will also help them to minimise loosing items). It is physically impossible for a class teacher to help dress 25 kids into and out of their PE kits and put on their coats, hats and gloves for playtime and lunch time so if your child can do this already it will help everyone. I'm sure their Teacher will also be even more impressed if they can put all their clothes the right way round and neatly together! Please also make sure that they are toilet trained. I was always staggered by the number of kids that could not go to the toilet independently when they started school.

3 Develop their social skills. You can do this by playing board games with them and demonstrating turn taking. Please DO NOT allow your child to always win games this can cause a lot of problems when they start school and don't win something. Trust me, I have witnessed this, when I was a Teacher, and it wasn't pleasant! Read to your child to encourage them to listen. Be a good role model by showing them what good eye contact is, how you cooperate with others, that you are happy to share what you have with others. If you are able to organise some play dates so that they can interact with people their own age, this will really help too.

4 Teach them basic manners! You would be amazed at the amount of children that do not know basic manners. Explain to your child the importance of saying "please" and "thank you" and demonstrate this constantly to them. It is also important that you expect this from them too. So often when my boys were young I would say "pardon?" and then I would get the polite response that I expected. As a parent, I have always prided myself when their class teachers at Parents' Meetings would comment on how polite they were. 

5 Get them excited about school! Often if Parents are anxious, children sense this. If possible, try and attend all the information days that the school might have and get to know other parents. Talk to your child about the name of the school their going to, their Teacher's Name, what the uniform looks like etc Even practise the route to school before their big day so that they know what to expect.

This is a huge milestone in their life and indeed yours so just relax and enjoy the experience. They are going to create so many happy memories over the next few years and anything that you can do to help them along their journey will help them greatly.