10 Tips For Parents With Children Starting School In September with LeapFrog
Here are my tips in collaboration with educational toy brand, LeapFrog.
For thousands of parents across the UK, it’s the final countdown to their child’s first day of school, so LeapFrog and I are helping parents get both themselves and their kids ready for the classroom.
Starting school can be an emotional time for both parents and children. It’s a huge milestone for all of the family as life shifts from a more fluid time at home or nursery to a stricter routine at school: the first stage of your child’s academic life. It’s normal to feel worried about this new chapter in both of your lives but before you know it, you will have both found your feet and the new school flow!
Here are 10 tips to help alleviate your fears and enable you (both) to feel excited about starting school in September:
All children start at varying abilities
Children attend school in order to learn and whilst knowing basics such as letter and number recognition is a great start, they don’t need to know how to read and write from the off. Remember that children start with varying abilities and it’s the teacher’s job to differentiate his/her style to suit and support each and every pupil. I went through my own old school photos (cringe) with my eldest when he was about to start reception, which he found both hilarious and reassuring. The photos also worked as a prompt to help discuss school days and what he might expect himself. Try it!
Introduce your child to the classroom setting
Most schools host a transition week whereby reception children are invited in for a settling-in period before school starts. Get involved with this if possible – it will help make the beginning of term go more smoothly. Equally, teachers often visit pre-schools and nurseries, while others make home-visits so that new pupils recognise and feel comfortable around their new teachers. Embrace these opportunities if they arise.
Have a practise school run
Buy uniform as close to the start of term as you can since kids tend to have growth-spurts in the summer months. Once you have the uniform (new shoes, PE kit and everything is name-labelled) attempt a practise school run and try it several times before school starts if you can. That means setting an alarm, preparing a packed lunch if you’re taking one, and practising your new school routine, arriving at the gates ready (even though it’s still August).
Buy a huge wall calendar
Prepare to receive a lot of information when your child starts school. I often wish my kids had their own PA as there’s just so much to remember and take in. Sync Google calendars with the school if you can and write ‘dates to remember’ onto your wall calendar to stop you from forgetting special assemblies, sports days and more. Oliver turned up in his uniform on non-uniform days twice last year, yet we changed him and all was OK! And breathe!
Educational products like LeapStart encourage children to learn through play. Oliver loves helping his little brother Alexander learn through the system so the boys get to bond as well as learning thanks to the tool. With levels that grow with your child, LeapStart complements school-based skills like reading, maths, science and geography alongside social skills such as logic and reasoning.
Help support your child so they can go to the toilet alone, use a knife and fork at lunch, wash their hands, tidy up and feel confident in putting their hand up to ask for help if needed. Use the summer period as a time to perfect these things. Try not to stress though, children develop at their own time and pace, and will follow the lead of other children at school once terms starts.
Arrange a play date with a fellow classmate if you can so your child sees familiar faces at the start of term and starts to make bonds as soon as possible.
Embrace technology by using educational tools and apps to introduce and support your child’s learning journey. Practise songs, counting games and storytelling, and of course read to your child as much as possible (at bedtime, in restaurants etc.) to encourage them to find pleasure in learning.
Encourage pre-school activity with your child
Involve an older sibling or family member in educational pre-school games that span arts and crafts including painting, building and model creation as well as counting and literacy. Alexander likes me to read children’s books to him as he follows along, pretending to read. Find stories on the theme of starting school to help prepare your child for the new start, and encourage questions from the story.
When your child starts school, know they will be tired on their return. They will be doing more than they are at nursery or at home, both mentally and physically, so the days will feel longer for them. They might cry and act up more than usual during this transitional period so listen, understand (making greater allowances) and offer them lots of love and support. I find my children often confide their concerns to me in the car. Maybe it’s easier for them to talk to the back of my head rather than hold eye contact. Encourage chat at those times or before bed which is another time they often let their guard down and reach out for support. Don’t fear reaching out to the teacher for further insight or to discuss any concerns either.
Know that you and your child will be fine, I promise.