Sophia starts school this year and it’s brought on a few mixed emotions for both of us. Like most parents, I’m shocked at how quickly the time has gone and that I now have a child who is starting kindergarten. I’m excited for her and can’t wait to see what the year brings, but I will also miss our mummy/daughter days and being able to spend loads of time with her throughout the week.
As for Sophia, she’s looking forward to starting but she loves her pre-school and is sad to be leaving her teachers and friends. We’ve visited her school already and she still seems a little overwhelmed as the grounds are so much bigger than what she’s used to. However I’m reassured by the fact that she will have friends from pre-school attending with her so I’m confident that she is going to love it. I think I’ll be the one who will be more upset at the school gate!
I’ve been busily trying to prepare Sophia for school both from an organisation perspective (stationery, uniforms and the like) but also in the drastic change to routine and environment. So if you’re in the same boat, with a little one about to head off to kindergarten, here’s what I’ve been doing…
School readiness skills
These are just some of the things that I know Sophia will encounter at school so we’ve been trying to do these things at home to help prep her for being at school/in the classroom.
– Practising writing her name, doing tracing activities and cutting and pasting to help strengthen her fine motor skills and also expose her to things she’s likely to do in class.
– We’ve been chatting a lot about letters and numbers so she’s familiar with them before starting school.
– Having to sit through lessons will be one of the biggest transitions Sophia will have to make so we’re practicing sitting down at the table for a more extended period of time. I’m getting her to complete a drawing/activity that lasts longer than five minutes to help expand her concentration skills.
– School is also about socialising with other children so we always go to parks, birthday parties and other events in our neighbourhood so she can get used to playing with others. This includes working on important skills that will be needed in school such as being comfortable taking turns, dealing with conflict and being around other kids. We’ve also been playing common schoolyard games like hide and seek, tip, kicking a ball etc so she’s familiar with them.
– Recess and lunch will of course be part of school routine, and Sophia has had lots of practice opening and closing and eating out of her lunch box at preschool. If your child has trouble getting their lunch out for any reason, it’s better to know now rather than when their actually at school already so you can work through it with them.
– As the holidays come to an end we have already started to get back into school bedtime routine and have sophia wake up and go to bed at the times she’ll need to when she starts school to help make the transition to her new school a lot easier.
– Sophia will of course have to use the bathroom at school by herself so whenever we take her to a public toilet, we’ve been practicing her going independently which includes locking and unlocking the door.
– As Sophia has attended preschool, she has got into the habit of being able to pack her school bag independently. To practice this skill initially we would get Sophia putting things in her bag and packing them away such as folding an A4 piece of paper in half and placing it in her bag.
Getting involved with the school
To help make the first day a little less daunting we’ve made sure to attend any school events or orientations so there will be some familiar faces when Sophia starts school. Also as there are a number of children from Sophia’s pre-school who will also be attending her school, we’ve tried to organise play dates with them during the holidays to help strengthen that bond prior to their first day at school.
Talking about school
I was given some great advice about how to talk about school which I’ve been doing. We’ve been avoiding referring to kindy as “big school” as it can seem a little daunting for children. Instead we’ve just been saying “primary school” or “starting a new school.” Also we chat about school in a positive light but also realistically. For example we don’t really keep emphasising how many friends Sophia will make as it can sometimes set unrealistic expectations as sometimes kids may struggle in this department.
We’ve tried to stay abreast of any communications sent by the school to ensure that Sophia doesn’t miss out on any important information prior to starting kindy.
– I used these bento style lunch boxes when Sophia was in pre-school and think they’re great so we’ve got her another one for kindergarten. We also got her input with the design so felt involved and it’s something familiar when she’s at school.
– Much like pre-school everything has to be labelled at school so I’ve ordered some personalised name labels. Also it’s great in case anything goes astray.
– I’ve already ensured that our laundry is well stocked with the necessary stain removers and bleach as no doubt her uniform will end up with dirt/stains on it at some point. Also I’ve got some double sided hemming tape in case her hem comes undone one day—it’s a quick and easy way to fix it without having to get a needle and thread involved.
– We’ve tried to read books about starting school (to help open up conversation about school) and also upped our reading together. Whenever we read to Sophia we try and use our finger to track the words so she starts to make the association between language and sound.
Tell me—what things have you done/being doing to get your child ready for school?