Things To Teach Your Child Before They Start School
- Write and Recognise Their Own Name: Many children can write their own name by the time they start school. But can they recognise it when faced with an array of other names? Your child will need to be able to find their own coat peg, they may have a named tray for their belongings and work, they will need to locate their lunchbox amongst lots of others, and perhaps find a named jumper in lost property at the end of the day. For those children with popular names (Sophies, Joshuas, Isabelles and Jacks!), learning to recognise their surname can also be very useful.
- Dress and Undress Themselves: From doing up zips on coats, to getting changed for PE, teachers and TAs can’t help every child to get ready. Make it easy for your child by providing them with clothes that are easy to get on and off: elasticated waistbands on trousers and skirts, Velcro fastenings on shoes, polo shirts instead of traditional shirts, elasticated ties etc. Hopefully your school will have a sympathetic uniform policy.
- Toilet Training: Accidents do happen and many Reception classrooms are set up to enable children to get to the toilet quickly (either being situated close to the toilets, or having their own en-suite). Our top tip is to make sure your child understands that if they need to go to the toilet, they just have to ask. Many accidents happen because a child is worried about interrupting or think they must complete their work first. If you can teach your child to ask in plenty of time, so much the better – allowing them time to get to the toilet before it’s too late.
- Teach Them To Put Their Hand Up: If your child has been attending nursery they will already understand that in some situations they will need to put their hand up if they want to say something. Putting your hand up (without shouting out at the same time!), is something they will need to do a lot of during their time at school and therefore it makes sense to get some practice in early.
- Work on Social Skills: With 30 children and generally two adults in a classroom your child’s experience of school will be so much better if they can get along and work happily with other children. This is all about sharing, taking turns, thinking of others, playing nicely etc. Much of this will be learnt at preschool and nursery.
- Eating Lunch: If your child is going to have school dinners it’s worth finding out how these are served and what options they will have. Some children are a bit intimidated by dinner ladies and queuing up for food – not able to assert themselves and ask for what they want. Why not take a trip to a garden centre or department store with a traditional canteen so you can give your child an idea of how school dinners might work? If you plan to go down the packed lunch route you can practice eating these at home. Although it’s no fun eating against the clock unfortunately children only have limited time to eat their lunch at school; so if your child is a slow eater it might be a good idea to work at speeding the process up with a reward at the end.
- A, B, C: Your child will be launched straight into learning the alphabet phonetically when they start school, so give them a great start by practising at home. There are lots of songs and rhymes to help make the process easier, and activity books to enjoy together.
- 1 – 20: They will also be starting basic maths, so learning to count up to 20 and recognise all these numbers will help them in the classroom. Once again there are lots of resources available, have a look at the BBC’s Numeracy page for some ideas.
- Understand “No” and ‘Stop”: For their own safety, as well as from a behavioural point of view, children do need to understand and respond to “No” and “Stop”.
- Encourage Them To Love Books: Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare your child for school is to install a love of books. Visit the library, explore lots of different types of books (fiction and non-fiction), read aloud lots, encourage them to look at a book rather than watch TV, or find innovative ways to enjoy books (using technology, audio books etc.).
If you have any tips for preparing your child for big school we would love to hear them!