Starting school is a huge milestone for you and your child. It’s perfectly understandable to worry about your child adjusting to this big change.
Rest assured that your chosen school will be used to welcoming children who feel a bit overwhelmed at first. Her teacher and the classroom assistants will support her and help her to feel that she is a valued participant in school life.
But in the run-up to your child’s first day at school, there’s plenty you can do too. If you want to help your child adjust to new groups of people, you could take her to a group activity such as a music or dance class.
Free storytime sessions at your local library provide a great opportunity for your child to meet others of a similar age. Or simply take her to your local park every weekend. It’s an easy way for her to interact with children, big and small, that she hasn’t come across before.
Try to encourage your child to participate in group activities whenever they occur, such as during birthday parties. If you know she’s reluctant to join in with games such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Musical Statues, play them together at home.
If you’re worried your child isn’t used to following instructions, introduce simple games at home to get her used to the idea.
Perhaps she likes dressing up. You could ask her to put on a certain costume and when she’s finished, to put her hands on her head, or stand on one leg. If she does well, praise her and explain that you’re happy because she did what you asked. Dressing up will also build her confidence for when it comes to changing clothes at school.
There’s no need to drill your child in letters and numbers before she starts school. You can talk about numbers, colours and letters as you go about your daily lives.
At the supermarket, ask her to find the red box of cereal, or the green apples. When you get home, count the items you had in your bags. See if your child can arrange your shopping in order of size.
But being aware of herself is equally important when she starts school. Does she know how old she is? Could she tell her teacher if she’s hurt herself? Help your child to memorise parts of her body. It will boost her confidence when she is asked questions she knows she can answer.
You can also help her to understand words such as “same” and “different” or “more” and “less”. This will help your child to express her thoughts.
Help your to child describe things and make distinctions. Put two different kinds of fruit in a bowl. Three apples and a banana, perhaps. Ask your child to choose the one that’s different.
You could also talk about words that describe time, such as “before” and “after.” For example: “We had breakfast before we went to the park.”
If your teaching is casual and informal, your child will pick up knowledge without knowing she’s being taught. The learning your child does in reception will be based on play, so these games will prepare her well for her school day.