With lockdown still in place and schools having been shut, the idea of preparing our kids to start school for the first time in September may seem like a distant reality.
However, these times are so uncertain that we can't disregard the notion that our children starting school next year is still a likelihood whilst still acknowledging that this might not happen in the way we would have planned. Knowing how to support and help your child with this exciting step into education is still so important.
That first day of school is bound to be daunting for anyone, but with a few tips and ideas under your sleeve, your child can walk through their new school's gates feeling confident and ready as ever. From making new friends, getting used to a more formal classroom environment, to being faced with the challenges of more difficult work and new subjects to get stuck into, starting school is scary but such a milestone in our children's lives. So be sure your child has the best start possible as they get ready for this next step. Take a read below at some of our helpful tips and recommendations to make sure your child is prepared for their first day of school.
Start A Pretend School
One great way to prepare your child starting school is to set up a pretend school in the house. This is something so simple and also perfectly suited to whilst we're still in lockdown too. As you or your partner may be working from home, create a tailored school experience around your working day to let your child get used to the idea of a full day at school. Set little tasks for them to do during their day on a timetable you make for them. There are so many free online learning resources too, your children will certainly not be short of things to do during their day. Make sure you set a proper break time and lunchtime toon with lots of playtimes involved as well to mimic all the fun of a school playground.
Let Your Child Get Themselves Ready In The Morning
Getting dressed themselves in the morning is something that your child may not be familiar with yet, which is perfectly okay. But slowly building in these key development skills before they're due to start can really help them get used to when they'll be putting on their school uniform in the morning. For P.E. lessons as well your child will be getting dressed and undressed independently. To make it a bit easier, using shoes with velcro or clothes with zips will give that little helping hand as they learn these new life skills. You can also get your child used to wearing school uniform throughout the day, and practise taking it on and off. Especially if the uniform has some more tricky items like ties and laces! Remember to label these items too with your child's name to avoid any mix-ups when they start.
Help Your Child Make New Friends
School is the time when socialising will become a key part of your child's everyday life, and building these social skills will really help them out when it comes to making their new friends at school. Although with lockdown restrictions still in place at the moment, it is harder to do this when we're all limited to socialising with whoever's in our households. However, social apps and social media platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime could be used to help your children get used to talking, conversation and play with other children their age. If you have any family friends who also have children due to start school soon, get connecting virtually to give your child courage and confidence for the next chapter.
Practise Saying Goodbye
Saying goodbye to your child on their first day is bound to be tough for any parent and child alike. However, by practising this now it will make it a lot easier for both parties on the day until you'll both be completely used to it. Once lockdown eases, dropping your kids off at a friend's house for a few hours to play is a great way to start implementing this. Or for a tip for during lockdown, if you're working from home pretend you're going to work and say goodbye to your child for a few hours whilst you work in the office to mimic a real school and working day.
Practise The School Run
Once lockdown lifts, practising the daily school run is a brilliant way to prepare your children and yourselves to your new routines. Get used to getting in the car together with the school bags, putting the seat belts on, and driving the route you will take to their new school. It's a fantastic way to get the children excited too, maybe even seeing their new school from the outside for the first time. That first drive on the first day won't seem as scary anymore.
School isn't all sitting behind a desk, reading and writing. There are a lot of fun outdoor play and art activities, which may result in your child getting a little bit mucky from time to time. Teaching them good personal hygiene skills early is a really useful thing, and should not be taken lightly. Show your children how to wash their hands thoroughly and properly, how to clean up after messier play and the importance of using soap. Making sure your child knows how to use the toilet independently too is another all-important skill that will stand your kid in excellent stead for when they begin school. These are all essential bits of learning for the future too.
Lunchtime at school is always a fun and playful time of the day, and something your hungry children will most certainly be looking forward to once the busier days of school start. Teaching them how to eat independently, ready for when they'll be doing so with their new friends is really important. Also having a go at packing a packed lunch together with healthy snacks and some treats too will make them feel more positive towards this new situation. To make lunchtimes even more exciting, enjoyable and less daunting, there's loads of fun to be had choosing a new lunch box together with your child. With so many to pick from with some of their favourite colours and characters on them, it's something you can send them into school with and know it'll brighten their day.
Most importantly, allow your child to get excited about this new start too. Despite the daunting nature of a new school, it can easily be one of the best times of their lives, meeting new people and learning new things. Encourage your child about the exciting nature of what's to come, and tips like reading books on starting school together and letting them ask you questions is a perfect way to ensure they're as happy as they can be.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.