3 Top Tips for Getting Your Child Ready for School
With the summer holidays just around the corner, what better time to start thinking about school? Particularly if you have a child who is about to start for the first time soon.
I do not say this to start a mass parental panic, but just as a reminder and nudge in the right direction. Consider this some helpful hints and tips to get your child on their way to a successful start to their schooling career, but by no means a definitive guide.
Do you think your child is ready for school?
What is School Readiness?
As a starting point, let me just clarify what I mean by being "ready for school".
School is a big deal for our little ones, there are new faces, big new spaces and lots of new and exciting toys to play with. Although this sounds fantastic from our point of view, to a child, I am sure that there can be nothing worse than being left in a strange, new place without your mummy or daddy to enjoy it with you. All of this can be even more of an ordeal if you are still in nappies, cannot dress, change yourself or have difficulty in expressing your needs, wants and fears.
Imagine starting a new job that you are completely under-qualified for and in an industry that you have never experienced before... Yes, it is an adventure but an almighty scary one at that.
It can be a daunting experience for parents too. No parent enjoys seeing their little one scared or stressed. But, don't fear, don't stress. It doesn't have to be such a terrifying experience anymore. I'm not saying I have to answers to the problem, but I think I might have a few ways that might just help the process.
5 Quick Tips for Success
- Be Encouraging ! PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE. (Even if there is pee on the floor... or worse!)
- Positive encouragement is OK (10 minutes extra TV time if you pee 2 times in the potty, can play with iPad if it goes in the potty)
- Try the No Pants trick... Yes, there may be mess but at least they will know what happens when they don't get to the potty in time. Trial and Error.
- Reward successful experiences with favourite things; sweets, treats, small gifts or lots of cuddles and kisses.
- Make it all about them. If they have a weird quirk and feel the need to pour it in the toilet themselves, let them. Let them explore and be interested. (Make sure there is a warm bath waiting for afterwards!)
Granted, this isn't the most glamorous part of childhood, but unfortunately, it has to be done. All too often practitioners and teachers are encountering children who are entering school still unable to use the bathroom or are still wearing nappies.
By Reception age (age 5), there is a certain expectation that children should be engaging with learning opportunities and fun activities, not to be sat in soiled underwear waiting for the teacher to deal with the three other children in a similar predicament. As well as it not being the teacher's job to tend to nappies and dirty clothing, it also puts other children at a disadvantage.
Toilet training is never an easy task, and I will never say it is, but the sooner it is done, the sooner you never have to deal with it again. And the bigger the brownie points with the teachers.
There are many ways to bust out the potty training, I have heard many success stories from friends with kids and from reading online about methods that have been tried, tested and conquered. The website Mumsnet (See below for link) has an in-depth section on toddler's potty training that is written by mums for mums.
- Potty training - Toddlers | Mumsnet
Mumsnet's advice on potty training your toddler including how to know when your child is ready to come out of nappies, how to minimise the stress and when to stop nappies at night.
Getting Dressed Independently
Another crucial issue that teachers deal with is when children are getting changed for P.E. or swimming. A large number of children coming into school are struggling to dress and change themselves which puts pressure and stress on practitioners and other children. In schools that I have visited, teachers were known to add 30 minutes to any activity as "Changing Time". 30 minutes in a school day is way too much! For teachers, there are not enough hours in the day to meet all of the standards that are required of us, therefore spending 30 minutes just changing children is not a good use of the time.
I do not mean to rant, but it is something that I am very eager to try and address.
The thing about starting to get children to dress themselves is again Trial and Error. Find a time that is suitable and spend time allowing your child to explore what it is like to dress by themselves. Ask questions, such as:
- What are these?
- Where do these go?
- What is this bit for?
- How do you put these on?
These questions will allow the child to start voicing their thoughts and ideas about their clothing which will allow you, as the parent, to identify where they might need some help. But essentially, let them do it themselves. Yes, they may set their own fashion trend, they may have their trousers on their arms and their arm in the head hole but through practice they will get it.
"Practice Makes Perfect." As my mum used to say.
Another tip I picked up was pocket money. Get your child interested in paying for something they have always wanted; lego, a doll, a toy. And encourage them to earn their own pocket money by getting dressed by themselves. For example, 1p for every item of small clothes put on correctly independently. 10p for doing it all, entirely by themselves.
And if your child struggles to remember the order of which to get dressed, how about inventing a Dressing Order chart that you build together and your child can tick off the items of clothing as they go, which again enhances their skills and understanding.
Health and Hygiene
Particularly crucial in schools and early years settings, is health and hygiene. Among children, diseases and bacteria spreads like wildfire. The children play in very close proximity to each other and share toys. Although, practitioners and teachers do their utmost to maintain a clean and safe environment, the children must begin to learn responsibility for their own health and hygiene. Hand washing, is particularly important.
Every school has a different system for hand washing so it is difficult to know which is best to use that coincides with the school your child goes to. The best way to know is to speak to the practitioners of your child's school and ask them what their procedure is.
But over all, the best tip I can give is to remind them of the dangers of germs and explain that it takes no longer than 1- 2 minutes to wash their hands thoroughly.
In my previous school, the children were encouraged to sing "Happy Birthday" to themselves twice, which would identify how long they needed to wash for. Many of the children were kean and eager to take part in this.
Have your say.
Do you agree with the methods I have put forward?
Any Feedback, Thoughts or Questions?
So I hope this was helpful in some way or another. This is my first Hub and by no means my greatest work, but I hope to get feedback and criticism which will help me make my future Hubs better.
Let me know what you think.
Thank you for taking the time to stop and read what I have to say.