Seven top tips for a smoother start to school
Hundreds of thousands of children will be starting school in September.
This can be an exciting, if somewhat daunting, period. But a child’s first experience of school is important and it’s in everyone’s interests to ensure that the transition is as smooth and positive as possible.
Sophie Baber, Headteacher of Brookham School, has shared her seven simple steps to help your child approach school with a spring in their step:
1) Go for a family day out. You need to give your child the confidence and courage to face this new environment. Schools are busy places, filled with the constant hum and energy of young children voraciously learning. For some this will feel very daunting, particularly if they have never left your side. So, for those that have not attended a nursery, make sure you are providing them with the experience of being in busy, child-friendly places. This is a great excuse for a day out to your local soft-play centre or family attraction.
2) Ask Granny and Grandad to babysit. In this instance, the children are developing the ability to separate from their parents, while you have a day to sew name tags onto their new school uniform.
3) Arrange a home visit with school. Schools will often enquire if teachers can visit your child at home. These home visits are a wonderful opportunity for children to get to know their new teachers in an environment where they feel confident and relaxed. Equally important for the teacher, they help give a real understanding into your little one’s interests.
4) Have a play date. Another key ingredient to settling a four-year-old is developing friendships. If you know some of the other children who will be attending the same school, use the summer holidays to hold regular playdates. Reach out to new families and consider making the most of the beautiful British summer to hold picnics in your local park.
5) Challenge them. No matter what the subject, there is one key ingredient that will allow your child to be successful – courage. In order to develop this attribute, you need to challenge your child. Your little one is at the very start of their educational journey. They are not supposed to know all the answers, so don’t take away the joy of learning by removing the obstacles. Children are like scientists, they come up with a theory and they test it out. When nothing goes as planned, they try again and keep on trying. They are resilient learners who adapt as they learn. This is so important for their success at school and in the future. It is the process, not the answer, that will create courageous and efficacious learners. Challenge can be developed everywhere. Encourage your child to climb, jump, whizz and skip around the playground without your support.
6) Question them. Listen to your child when they explain what they have been up to. Really listen, stop what you are doing for five minutes and give them your complete undivided attention. Learn the beauty of the phrases, ‘I wonder…’ and ‘Have another go’ to extend their learning. Then set them off to happily make mistakes all over again.
7) Teach them to listen. Summer is a wonderful time to practice listening. Lying in the garden listening to the bees buzzing and the birds singing is a lovely way to encourage a young child to practice sound discrimination. This skill will, in turn, help a child learn the units of sounds in words as their auditory discrimination becomes more finely tuned.