That’s why, I want you to think about how you can apply the knowledge I’m sharing with you to your own child. I don’t believe that there is a ‘one-size fits all’ method that works for starting school. For example, some children are academically ready, whereas others are more physically capable. It’s important not to compare your child to their peers – although this is sometimes easier said than done.
Starting School skills include:
- practical skills
- social & emotional readiness,
- communication skills
- basic academic skills – what is handy to know and how to incorporate playfully
- and your preparation as the parent or carer in your child’s life – including what you can do so that your child has the best start possible
Contrary to popular belief, drilling your child on the abcs and 123s isn’t really what getting ready for school is about. Or at least, the academic side of things is just a tiny part of the picture!
In fact, being ready for school can be quite tricky to quantify and depending on who you ask and what you read online, you might end up with contradictory answers
I’ve seen many long, long lists online along with bootcamp style online courses, but to be perfectly honest with you, those lists are enough to have parents (including me) have nightmares.
Those lists are also likely to put your child off school and learning for life, as they involve a mountain of worksheets and constant drilling of information.
The reality is children, just like us adults, all have different strengths and different areas that can be improved upon. They are little individuals, so uniform lists are unhelpful.
For example, child A might be excellent at getting dressed independently and has been out of nappies for a while, but they have shown no interest in the academic side of things.
Child B, might count and recognise numbers really well but doesn’t know how to put their own clothes on yet.
Does this mean that either child shouldn’t go to school? Of course not! Because everyone (including us) learn at different paces.
We also forget that children are brilliant at learning from one another, as well as from adults. Quite often seeing another child perform a task that they are struggling with can be a great motivator. There’s no reason why child A can’t learn from child B and vice versa!
Here’s what I believe:
When we treat the early years as merely a ‘preparation stage’ for school, the real importance of the early years is neglected. The early years should first and foremost be about social and emotional skills, building independence and exploring the world through play. It should not be about worksheets and drilling a child until they can recite the alphabet and count to 100.
10 tips for starting school:
Starting school tip 1: Prepare your child
Starting school tip 2: Create a simple rhythm
Starting school tip 3: Encourage independence
- open their lunch box, snack box and drink bottle – some can be surprisingly tricky to open, even for adults!
- put on their school uniform or school clothes – in many schools, children are required to change into a separate uniform for PE.
- put on shoes – some schools have an ‘indoor shoes’ policy and so your child might be changing multiple times in one day
- Identify their belongings – create activities that will help your child to learn their name. You can also add a special sticker or symbol to help them.
Starting school tip 4: Get involved
Starting school tip 5: Be a good listener
Starting school tip 6: Practice kindness and respect
Starting school tip 7: Foster a love of learning
Starting school tip 8: Set achievable goals
Help your child set achievable goals, both in and out of school. This will give them a sense of purpose and help them stay motivated.
You should be invited to attend a parents’ evening during the first term of school so share these goals with the class teacher and ask for suggestions too.
School’s often use the ‘2 stars and a wish’ approach to help give feedback on what your child is doing well (2 stars) and what would be a good goal for the future (a wish). This is a great approach to adopt at home too.
Starting school tip 9: Provide a positive and supportive home environment
Starting school tip 10: Celebrate their successes
Celebrate your child’s successes, big and small. This will help them feel valued and boost their confidence. This could be as simple as saying that your proud of their achievement or celebrating with a special family meal or day trip.
It’s so, so important to note that every child is different and you shouldn’t compare y0ur own child’s learning journey to that of their classmates.
- learning to recognise and spell their name
- learning a new set of phonics sounds
- reading their first sentence
- recognising and counting numbers up to 10, 20 and so on…
- being awarded as ‘star of the week’
Helpful Preschool / Starting School Posts to check out next:
Is your child starting school soon?
Head on over to my membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’, to access the ‘Starting School’ mini course.
Topics covered include:
- Building Independence
- Social-Emotional Readiness
- Foundational Academic Skills
- Your Readiness as a parent