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Starting school is an exciting time, but it can be an intimidating experience for any child...and their parents! So, what does a child need to know before starting school? And how can you make sure you and your little one feel happy and confident on the first day? From establishing the new routine to making sure they’ve got everything they need before starting primary school, this list will have them ready and raring to go.
A new routine
Children feel safe and secure with a set routine, and starting primary school might be a daunting change. Ease your child into it by establishing the new bed-time routine about a week in advance of the first day. It might also help if you show them the school a few times before they start, so you can both familiarise yourselves with it and where things are.
You can prepare your kids for the experience by talking to them about your time at school (sticking to the positive stories). You can also read relevant books together: there are plenty of books written for children about starting school, so look for those and talk about them when you’ve finished reading.
Life skills for starting school
A child starting school will be doing a few things on their own for the first time. Before term starts, make sure your child is confident with the following skills checklist for starting school.
- How to take off and put on their clothes. They might find it extra useful to practice changing and using the bathroom with their real school uniform and gym kit.
- How to blow their nose. Kids starting school should know how to blow their nose into a tissue and throw it in the bin as soon as they’re finished.
- How to use the toilet hygienically. It’s important that kids know to use the toilet in a hygienic way, including how to wipe and how to wash their hands. Accidents are likely to happen, so this is a good time to start teaching them to be well-prepared and organised by showing them where they can find some spare underwear and some toilet paper in their school bag if they need them.
- How to eat hygienically. Your child will be eating around their new friends and teachers, so understanding the basics of good table manners is a must.
Pop a packet of soft and gentle Cushelle facial tissues in their school bag, so they have one to hand when they need one.
What a child should know before starting school: social skills
A child starting school will be around lots of new and exciting people, so help your little one to remember when to say please and thank you. Ask older siblings to get on board with teaching them how to share – it’ll help them make friends in no time.
In the weeks running up to the first day of starting school, try playing ‘schools’ at home so they can practice putting their hand up. Older siblings can join in and pretend to be classmates or teachers. A black board or white board comes in handy here if you have one.
Saying goodbye on the first day of school
Last on this checklist for starting school is probably one of the most difficult things a parent has to do. Make sure your child understands that you will spend the day away from each other when school starts, and reassure them that someone will always be there to bring them home at the end of the day.
Be honest with yourself, too. Make sure you can talk through your own worries about the child starting school with a friend or family member – perhaps one who has been through it before. Plan to use your time so that neither you nor your little one feels you’ve missed out when you’re together again.
With this information, you should be that bit closer to feeling ready for the school year. Good luck!