10 things you can do now to get your kids ready for school
How to help your kids settle and thrive at school
All being well, kids in England should go back to school in only a few weeks. The UK Government has been clear about its intention to make the return to schools a priority, so it’s safe to assume it’ll happen as expected.
If your child is about to start reception class, you may wonder if they are ready enough for big school. You may wonder how independent they need to be. Should they be able to tie their shoelaces without help? Or wipe themselves after using the toilet? Sorry to be so explicit, but these are the kind of things that parents worry about. You are not alone.
Some parents may tell you there’s nothing you can do to prepare kids for school, that they will adapt quickly and schools will get them up-to-speed. While it’s true that most kids are highly adaptable and schools are fantastic, there are still many things you can practice now to help your child – and the rest of the family – deal with the transition. Here are our top 10.
Things you’ll need to buy
Remember you don’t need to buy everything brand new. You can buy second-hand uniforms and supplies in great condition from the School’s PTA and on social media groups.
1- School uniforms. Stick to your school’s list. It may be tempting to buy now for later on the year but remember growth spurts are unpredictable. And don’t forget to buy socks. You don’t want your child going to school in paw patrol socks that are about 3 sizes too small for them. True story.
2- School shoes. Kids spend a long time in their school shoes, so these have to be 1) Fit for purpose and comfortable, and 2) Great quality. I recently wrote a blog with an incredible promotion that you can’t miss out. But hurry! It’ll end soon.
It’s also good to wear school shoes at home a few times, so they don’t hurt your child’s feet during the first few long days at school.
3- Name labels. You’ll need lots, and they need to be easy to use. You don’t want to stay up sewing names on uniforms the night before their first day. You’ll be too busy drinking wine and wondering how your baby has grown up so fast. I love name stickers because they go on clothes (on the size tag), water bottles, lunch bags and even shoes. And the more you wash and tumble dry the clothes, the more they stick on.
4- Stationary, book bag, PE bag, lunch bag, and water bottle. Once again, you are best to stick to what’s on your school list. Except for water bottles; they seem to go missing all the time. I always have spares.
Your habits and routine
5- Bedtime. I know we’ve had long summer nights lately, and it’s hard to stick to a bedtime routine. Our kids haven’t gone to bed at a decent time in months! But the first days of school will be demanding. The last thing you need is a tired and irritable child dealing with all these changes and adjustment. So working on your bedtime and wake-up times from now on may be sensible.
6- Food and snacks. As above, it’ll help your child adapt to school if they already have set times for lunch and snacks during the day. You can also practice opening food boxes and wrappings on their own, putting their rubbish in the bin when they finish and even using cutlery. We are also practising sitting at the table until everyone has finished. It’s fair to say it isn’t going well thus far, but we’ll keep trying.
7- COVID language and routines. One of my favourite parenting authors, Sara Ockwell-Smith, recently posted on Facebook that it will be far less intimidating for your children if you practice useful COVID language and routines through roleplay at home. For example, how to keep social distancing; signs and instructions you may find at school; teddies wearing a facemask. You get the idea. Find the original Facebook post here.
How independent will they need to be
8- Getting dressed and undressed on their own. In my experience with our son, the single most useful thing kids can learn before school is to change into their PE kits and back into their regular uniform, without adult help. Sure, you’ll see them coming out of school with their jumper inside out and proudly displaying a label on their chest (another true story) but imagine the sense of achievement if they know they did it all on their own. Their teacher will thank you too. And you don’t need to worry about shoelaces. Velcro school shoes and PE trainers are just fine for reception class and until your child is ready to move to laces.
9- Follow simple instructions. It’ll make their life much easier if they expect to follow daily routines and instructions, such as leaving their water bottle in a designated space and hanging their coats on a peg. This will also keep their belongings together.
10- Using the toilet on their own. Yes, I know this may be a worry for many parents but all you can do at this stage is to practice as much as possible, even if you have to ‘check’ after and remind them to wash their hands every time. They’ll crack this important skill when they are ready. You may get a few skid marks… sorry, it had to be said, but it’s all part of growing up. So it’s all about practice, practice and practice some more. And if they don’t get it right? A big smile and try again next time. It’s not a big deal.
Before you go…
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