What to consider when your child is transitioning to school in 2019
I can see your panicking faces from here, or is that the face of freedom? There are so many feelings revolving around the thought of your Child (especially the first) heading off to ‘big school’ next year.
There is the parent who will cry, the parent that says they wont cry and then resembles the moment Allie Hamilton can’t decide who to marry in ‘The Notebook', there are the parents that run away shouting “Freedom” whilst donning a Scottish kilt, commando, naturally and also the parents that plan a champagne breakfast the day their kids start school, there is no one feeling, emotion or reaction to starting school.
So what happens from now until then?
Usually when your child attends kinder, they begin ‘school transition’ at this time of year, they will often visit the school for short periods of time to get them used to their new environments and often meet their teachers. At kinder they will often transition their routines and play to surround the ‘heading to school’ concept, encouraging lunchboxes to be used, having ‘school play’ environment set ups and will have many discussions about going to school.
So what if my child isn’t able to read ‘War and peace’ or the complete ‘Harry Potter’ collection at age 5?
Parents often worry that their child may not be able to write or read when they go to school, this is unnecessary worrying and is only going to acquire more wrinkles, so put down the cue cards and relax, that is what school is for. Children should be able to typically:
Interact with both peers and adults without too much difficulty, have conversations, communicate their needs, be able to manage basic self and social conflict and work within a small team.
Follow instructions; put their bag away, sit on the mat and listen respectfully to their teacher. They should be able to concentrate for periods of time and follow rules.
Self regulate their own emotions and manage their behaviour. They should be able to wait for small periods of time and take turns.
Be fairly independent and not need too much adult intervention, be able to toilet, dress and manage self help needs.
Have some literacy and numerous concepts, not writing novels, but have an idea of the alphabet letters, recognition, sounds and possibly be beginning or able to write and recognise their own names.
How can we help with school preparation?
Preparation can be, not just for the Child but for the parents at times, and a lot of the preparation is about educating yourselves around school life and discussing it, consider adding these to your ‘to do list’ before school:
Have positive discussions about school; feelings about education can often stem through a child from the feelings of those round them.
Talk about what they can expect at school to prepare them.
Get all creepy and do ‘drive- bys’ of the selected school to get them excited and prepared for the new environment.
Attend all transitions organised by the school or kinder and display positive ‘vibes’ with the environment and staff for your child to view.
Be prepared; get uniforms, any stationary and paperwork organised so it doesn’t feel stressful for either of you.
Connect with other parents and kids going to the same school and organise time together to chat and get to know each other, it makes a big difference having a familiar face in a new environment for the child and the parents!
Set up school ‘play zones’ at home; have writing books similar to what they will have at school, with various writing aids such as greyleds and pencils, have a sharpener available and encourage your child to attempt to do this independently when required.
Play games, such as GO FISH, UNO, Charades for Kids or even Monopoly Junior to gather skills such as numeracy, literacy, confidence, following instructions, concentration and social skills- not to mention while having FUN!
Read a variety of books; point out and discuss the pictures and words. Text and language is everywhere, looking at the road signs, labels in the shops, read everything, making it something that you do everyday. This is the same for numeracy, point out numbers, count items everyday e.g can you please put 6 apples in my bag? Or how many steps do you think it is until we get to the corner?
Written by Sara Saunders.
Sara Saunders is great to have a coffee with! Our first coffee meeting lasted 2-hours, seriously! She is a children’s book author, contributor to Mamamia, The Herald Sun and Little Rockers Radio, an environmental sustainability advocate and the founder of My Play Boutique.