My Nelly will be turning 4 in March and here in Tassie that means she will start school next year. She is busting to go already and would love it if I would drop her off at Play Group and go home 😀.
In a former life (before children) I was a teacher. I have taught K-3 although mostly Prep/1 classes. My teacher brain has been turning on a bit lately since Nelly has all of a sudden become interested in reading and writing (in a very abstract sense at this stage) 😉. With her soon to begin Pre-Kinder and school next year I have also been thinking about what it is I need to be doing to get her ready. As a teacher, I would say these are the most important things a parent can do to ready their child for school.
Get them to carry their own bag
Sounds simple yes but this I believe is quite important. As a teacher I noticed that kids who carried their own bag and unpacked it as they arrived where generally more organised and independent throughout the day. It gives them a sense of ownership and independence.
Teach them to recognize and write their name
Don’t panic if your child doesn’t write their name perfectly before starting school but talking to them about it, modeling writing it and pointing it out will get them on the right track. Talk about the shape of the letters and the way they are written. Point out the letter that your child’s name starts with in lots of different situations and see if they can do the same. Use a capital letter for the first letter and lower case for the rest. Please 😀 It is sooo difficult for kids to understand why their teacher is asking them to write their name a differently to the way their parents have taught them if they are used to using all capitals. Parents are always right after all (in our kids eyes anyway).
Get involved with the school
If your school provides playgroups, embrace it! Get involved. We are lucky and our local Primary School has the funding to run a Playgroup and a Music session to children from birth to 5 and Pre-Kinder for children in the year before they go to school. It is never to early to start. The more familiar your child becomes with the school, the teachers and the other children the easier it will be for them to make the transition to Kinder.
You know the deal. Read. Get them involved in reading. Ask them to choose the book (even if they choose the same bloody book every bloody day for a bloody week!). Read the title together and then flick through and look at the pictures. Talk about what might happen in the story, what do the pictures tell them about the storyline? Then when you read the story, try and be enthusiastic (if you can possibly find the energy), use interesting voices, volume and tone.
Talk to them about school
Tell them the obvious things; that there will be rules, they have to listen to the teacher, use their manners and take turns. But also tell them the less obvious things. Like at recess and lunch time their will be a teacher in the playground if they need help. That they can ask to go to the toilet anytime they need to. That they are in charge of their things and have to look after them. That there will be lots of new kids to make friends with, but not all of them will always want to play. Tell them school is fun.