Whether your child is returning to school or starting for the first time, this can be an emotional roller-coaster for parent and child. But there are some simple things you can do, or not do, to ease your child into school-life.
- Firstly, don't make a big fuss about it. You do want to prepare your child for school, but you don't want to scare him or her. Talking about the practical things, for example, games to play in the school-yard, the importance of wearing a hat outside, and the need to drink water throughout the day, will help your child without worrying him or her.
- Do practice some of the skills that your child will need to master at school. Tasks like managing the lunch-box, dealing with layers of clothing at the toilet, or putting on and taking off a jumper, can be quite tricky for a young child in a new environment.
- If your child asks about what they will do or learn at school, answer in a positive, matter-of-fact way, and let your child know that it takes time to learn to read, to write and to do maths. Unrealistic expectations of parent or child can be quite damaging to the child's school experience.
- Acknowledge and treasure each achievement of your child in the learning process. The children in the classroom will all learn at different rates, so comparing children's progress is not helpful. If you have a concern, it's better to talk to the teacher than other parents. Remember that the process is just as important as the product in the early school years.
- Be aware that the social and emotional skills of independence, self-discipline, awareness of others, decision-making, problem-solving and the ability to make friends are just as important as the technical skills of writing, reading, counting in the early stages of school-life. Acknowledge these achievements as well.
- When your child has finished school for the day, it may be more productive to ask questions such as "Who did you play with today?", "Did you do anything you had not done before?", or "What was the best part of the day?", rather than the generic question "What did you do today?" But, most importantly, listen to the answer, really listen.
If your child is returning to school, remember that they will still experience many new things " a different teacher and classroom, children they have not met before, other games in the playground and of course, new skills to learn. He or she needs your support as well.
These early days of the school year are critical for setting the scene, creating friendships and
fostering a love of learning in your child. So be there for your child with love and encouragement.
Copyright Janet Powell Mentor Maestro 2010