I dropped the ball. Like, majorly dropped the ball!!!
Sebastian turns 5 next month, I was talking to his carer about how I should probably start taking him to some school visits when she asked - "have you enrolled him"...ummmmm, no I had not! I don't know how that happened but don't be me, enrol your children for school when they're zero or you might forget & run the risk of not having anywhere for them to go.
It's not actually the end of the world, he will be able to start school but maybe not until 2021. I'm still holding out hope that a space will become available so he can have a few short weeks at school with Eli where he can show him the ropes before he heads off to intermediate next year (actual heartbreak, time is a thief)!
All of this got me thinking, how do we prepare our children for school? I've done some research & asked my friend (a primary school teacher) into what we can do as parents because I think we may focus/worry about their academics rather than their independence & their ability to do tasks on their own. So, here are 10 things we can do to prepare our children for starting school, they might seem small but they make the biggest difference in a classroom full of 5 year olds;
- Teach your children to look after their own belongings. Establish that routine/habit at home. You can do this with simple tasks such as clearing their own plates after meals, putting their own washing away etc...
- Make sure they know how to go to the toilet, wash their hands, blow their nose & cough into their elbow. Our current way of life entails lots of hand washing & hand sanitising so they're likely familiar with the drill but you could consider including some sanitiser in their school bag with some instruction on when to use it
- Make sure they can work the zips on their bag & that they can put it on themselves, they probably don't need a large school bag that's half their size!
- Send them to school with a lunchbox they know how to open & close. On that note have foods in their lunchbox that they can open & eat independently - peel oranges, open packets etc... or take it a step further & remove all unnecessary packaging, our school is big on this! Have you tried making your own Beeswax Wraps? I do think it's worth considering a way to keep their food cool inside of their lunchbox - Sebby in particular loves yoghurt with frozen berries, hard boiled eggs, cold meats like salami sticks & cheese in his lunchbox so he has a lunchbox that has a cooler pad in it!
- Ensure that they can put their shoes on & take them off by themselves & the importance of putting their belongings back in their school bag. I can't tell you how many times Eli's lost ONE shoe or how many times we've had to search in the lost property for items of clothing!!!
- Furthermore, make sure that they can dress themselves independently - this is important during swimming season or when they get wet & grubby during play. Labelling clothes is essential - my preferred method is a fabric sharpie for clothing & iron labels for socks (we don't do mismatched socks). Share with us your favourite way to label clothes
- And while it's awesome if they can write their name, know their colours & count to 100, what's more important is letter & number recognition. The actual writing can be taught quickly, so don't stress yourself into a panic practicing these things. The best thing you can do is foster daily exposure to letters & numbers. What is helpful though is knowing how to hold a pen correctly & how to use scissors
- I have some control issues with our nicer/special books, you know the ones with delicate cut outs or lift out pages but it's important that our children know how to hold a book, how to turn the pages carefully & that we read left to right, then sweep back to left again. It's less important that they know how to read & most important that they have a relationship with books & reading. Teachers will tell you that this is the single biggest indictor of success in reading & writing at school.
- I want to offer the idea of doing some role play to arm your child with ways to deal with different situations such as asking a question, sharing or bullying as well as a reminder on the use of manners, that is more for me than you - my boys forget their please & thank you's somedays!
- Lastly, here are some final points;
- If we can step back as parents & let our children do things on their own we're better equipping them for life. Sure, it's slow & painful somedays & it requires a lot of restraint not to take over but remember, life skills
- Be prepared for some after school exhaustion, grumpiness & non-communicaiton so aim for early nights & good food
- It's ok to cry on that first day, I reckon most mothers melt into a puddle as soon as their back is turned & they're headed for the gate. The screen is blurry as I type - I can remember dropping Eli off on his first day almost 6 years ago, I cried some big tears once I was in the car. Try to be calm & deal with any anxieties you may have
Off to send our some positive manifestations that Sebby will be able to start school next month & do some role plays,
*Image in this post has been provided by Anneke Heu who inspires me to take jazzy back to school photos (and in many, many other ways)!