So I’m sure that many of your little ones have recently started their very first day at big school. This is such an exciting time for families and a huge milestone in the life of your child. It’s a time filled with many mixed emotions and anxieties but also excitement. I’m sure you’ve spent the last few weeks sewing in name labels and preparing your little one for their first day.There is so much information out there about the ubiquitous first day but now that that day is over how do you help them for the rest of this very important year?
I recently sat down with Angela, a primary school teacher with over 30 years experience, to talk about the best ways to help your child settle into their first year of school. She offers some unique insights and helpful tips on how to support your little ones through reception and it’s not as focussed on letter & numbers learning as you might think.
Angela says that some parents may believe that their child is going to be exceptional just because they can count to 20 or 100, they know all of the letters in the alphabet or they can read a sentence. There is often an unspoken tally in the playground between nervous parents quickly calculating which aspect of year R their child has already mastered. Whilst all of these things are great and they are, of course, all elements of doing well in early education, she says that, simply ticking off these milestones does not necessarily mean that the child will do any better than any other child in the class.
She says that, although parents often like to have set markers of their reception’s achievements, what they sometimes don’t realise is that is is much less about what a child can do and much more about how they are doing it. For example if one child can count to 100 or even 1000 by memory it is not actually as helpful if a child can only count to 10 but can also conserve numbers. The learning of this logical thinking and ability to understand what each number is, how to count out that many items and even add that particular amount of items to another amount of items is what will help them in the future. Angela says a great way to build on this skill is though everyday tasks. Ask your little one to collect three tomatoes when cooking or count how many people are coming for dinner together and ask you child to set the table for the correct amount of guests.
Angela says that another thing that often gets overlooked is independence, life skills and communication. She goes on to say that there are many children who come to school that may be able to write their name and can tell you all their colours but have not yet learnt to dress themselves or share.The first few years of school are the optimum time for children to learn about empathy. It’s the prime time to talk about how things make other people feel and how you would feel in that situation. Role play is a fantastic way to instil this in your child. If you’re acting out a character that falls over or if one character steals another character’s toy, ask your child how they would feel in that situation and how they could hep the character to feel better.
She says that communication is such an important skill to be nurtured in children. This is the skill that will help them to write stories, talk about problems, have opinions, learn about other people and question things in the future. One of the best ways to help little ones with this is to simply allow them to speak for themselves. Ask for what they want in a shop, great people they meet and order their own food in restaurants. It is fantastic for them to learn that they have a voice and that they can use it to let people know how they’re feeling, make other people feel better, create an imaginary world, talk about why they find something interesting and ask questions.
Angela’s Top Insider Tips to Reception:
Read lots of books together, every night if possible. Talk about the story ask your children why they think something has happened, what will happen next, which character did what at the beginning etc. This will help them expand their imaginations and vocabulary. It will help to build a strong foundation in comprehension which will really help them in their future learning.
If your child is not too tired after school encourage them to have playdates. The more your little boy or girl gets to know their classmates the more familiar school will feel to them and the more confident they will become.
Don’t listen to braggie parents. You know your child and what is best for them, don’t worry if they haven’t reached the same “milestone” that another child has. As I said before, this sa
id “milestone” is often something that the parents have created in their mind to give themselves a marker of their child’s success and not necessarily something that will be helpful in their future learning.
Take a bit of one on one time with just you and your little one every so often. Do something fun and relaxing together; go to a cafe for a cake and a bambinocino, have a movie night, go on a walk. Use this time to tell them all of the things that they have done well recently, have fun together and chat
about anything and everything just enjoying their company. These are often the times when children feel safe enough to talk about any problems that they have. If you use these moments to check in with your children it can help you to discover any of their worries early on and nip them in the bud.
Enjoy it. This is such a fun filled year of making friends and new discoveries. Let your little one know that this is exciting and engage in all of their projects join them in they enthusiasm.
So an interesting insight into the world or year R. I hope you and all of your little ones are transitioning back into the school routine, whichever year they are returning to. School can be such an exciting place for children to make new friends, grow in confidence and become their own little people.
What to you do to help your children transition back into the school routine?