Well, it’s almost upon us. For some of you in Scotland and Ireland it has already arrived. How is it going folks? Starting School is daunting, exciting, emotional and a big logistical change to a routine you’ve probably had for a few years now!
Over the past month I’ve been posting on social media a few ideas of games and fun ways to prepare for this big adventure. So I thought I would collate everything here for now, and for future me when it’s Florence’s turn to walk through the gates and begin her education. Also it might be handy for parents who are in this boat next year to get a head start! 🙂
- GETTING DRESSED – this is a big change to their independence. Unlike nursery staff, the ratio of adults to children in a school is often very different and they don’t have time to help every little person zip up their coat or put their trousers back on after PE. So ideally your wee one needs to be able to do as much as they can themselves. Ways to help…
- Coats – coat race with Mummy or Daddy using the “Dip and Flip” Method shown here. It has a fun catchy tune too!
- Socks and tights – buy slightly bigger sizes to practice with, or let them try with yours. Put them on chair legs for fun or teddies and dolls. Ball them up and hide them around the house and do a ‘Sock hunt’ – they have to find them all, un-ball them and peg them to something. Put them on their hands and rub out chalk letters off the kitchen floor. Videos of this game on my story highlights on Instagram!
- Shoes – put a sticker inside cut in half so they can match them up to make left and right. Show them how to open them right up first, then how to do them up. Always let them try first before you help.
- Zips and buttons – play games on my blog designed to help with finger strength like The Washing Line or the spraying game here or pushing pasta through small holes in a box. Let them do your buttons and zips up – obviously at home – no one wants to be flying low or flashing a tit in soft play!
- Dressing up clothes – if you have these at home, get them out regularly as an activity. Or pop to a charity shop and let them choose a “fun outfit” of their choice to play with at home.
- Asking to go – explain to them calmly at some point, that at school they will need to ask a grown up if they may go to the toilet. Tell them about manners, and how grown ups will show them where it is, and how they can always ALWAYS ask for help.
- Bum wiping – I use a method called “3×3” – I say they need to use three bits of tissues, three times to wipe their bum. At the beginning they do one wipe, and I do two. Then once they’ve got the hang of that they do two wipes and I do a final one, then hopefully after that they should be able to do all three.
- Hand washing – here’s our hand washing song we sing which means they soap and scrub for long enough. (To the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat) Wash wash wash you hands, scrub them nice and clean, in and out and round and round, make those handies gleam!
- ASKING FOR HELP
- This is quite a hard skill to teach. However in any of the games we play or when learning something new, whenever my little one’s get frustrated at not being able to do something, I always calmly explain there’s no need to get cross if you can ask for help. And then I explain all they need to say is “can you help me please Mummy?” and I ALWAYS will. Then I wait for them to say it. and the second they do, I smile and say “of course I will help” – but only if they have tried first! I stick to this constantly and just hope they will remember it at school when the time comes.
- ANXIETY – this is totally natural and lots of children might feel anxious or daunted about starting a new school. Here’s a few little things to help…
- Hearts – draw a little heart on the palm of their hand. Draw one on yours. Explain anytime they are feeling worried, they can press their special love heart and it sends a magic cuddle to Mummy or Daddy and they can send one back. Practice while sitting together, pressing hearts and giving cuddles. Do this a couple of days before school and remember to draw one on that morning. You can draw it on wrists if you’re worried it might wash off!
- Talking calmly – every few days or so, when you get a quiet moment with your child. Switch off the telly or any distractions and just have a little chat about all the lovely things they will do at school. Mention their favourite things – painting, football, playgrounds, dinnertime, home corner. Whatever your child really enjoys tell them those things will be there and ask them what they think they will find too.
- Books – there are a few ‘Starting School’ books – our favourite is this one. This one looks great too. Read it together regularly. Leave it in different places for them to find. This is also a great way to start a conversation.
- TV show – CBeebies have done a Time for School series – check it out on iplayer with your little one here. Watch it with them and talk about it
- Walk to school – do the walk or drive to school as a practice. Explain that’s what you’re doing. If you walk, point out things you see that will still be there come September so that they feel familiar. Take a little treat for the journey home again so it feels like a positive experience for them. If they are walking along chatting about school and eating chocolate buttons it will seem like a nice and happy time – and they will associate this with school.
- HOLD A PENCIL – There is a video here on how to teach a good pencil grip. It’s called the ‘Pinch and Flick’.
- RECOGNISE THEIR NAME – they don’t need to be able to write it although obviously it’s wonderful if they can. But they should be able to recognise it. Here are some of my games which help with name recognition The Letter Reaction Wall, The Target Practice The Letter Race Track
- THE FIRST WEEK AT SCHOOL
- Sit down for 5 calm minutes a day – try to find a little bit of time to talk and ask them what their favourite bit of the day was? What made them laugh today? Can they teach Mum or Dad anything they learnt at school today? Who did they play with? Which bit of lunchtime was the most fun? Did anything make them sad? Open questions that let them discuss how they might be feeling about it all.
- Show them how to empty their school bags. Put their shoes and coat away. Bring you the letters they got to bring home. Get in a new routine now…this is your chance!!!
Sorry it’s so long but I hope there might be a few helpful nuggets in there for those of you with school starters. Mainly just stay positive. Tell your little one how much YOU are looking forward to it. Keep upbeat with them (then sob at photos of them as a baby at night when they are asleep!) and remind them and yourself it’s the start of a new wonderful adventure. Oh, and don’t forget the tissues…! GOOD LUCK. oh and p.s. if you want to have a proper sob about how fast they’ve grown up watch this! x