The first five years of a child’s life are the most crucial when it comes to brain development. It’s during this time that children grasp the fundamental skills they need to do well at school and develop as confident and content young people.
Getting ready for starting school for the first time, or after a long break may seem daunting and even upsetting given how attached we are to our children, but there didn’t need to be colossal effort! The more simple you make the process, the more relaxed it will be for your child.
In the year running up to the children starting school, creating opportunities for children to increase their independence at home is easy and useful.
Make sure the kids can manage their uniforms, working with buttons, zips and folding socks over neatly. It’s best to start with shoes with Velcro so that they can tackle them with ease. New buckles will be quite rigid, and laces fiddly, so make sure they have plenty of practice; a meltdown on the big day can be easily avoided! On a side note, kids grow like mad, so don’t buy uniforms right at the start of the school holidays; you may need to replace certain things before the year is out!
Encourage your children to pack their bags themselves. This is great coaching for making sure that their possessions are organised. Give them the responsibility to ensure they have their lunchbox, reading book, PE kit etc. If you’re having days out at the beach or are flying away on holiday, make it their job to pack their towel, sun cream, colouring book and pencils to familarise the activity.
In the mornings, make it an expectation that the children make their beds. It doesn’t need to be military standard by any means, but straightening the bed will make it look much neater.
Here, you need to play the long game in order to guarantee a smooth transition. Show your children on a calendar when the first day of school is, and use stickers or stamps to count down the days.
A good sleep routine is vital for children who need to be alert and engaged in school time. It’s likely that you’ll slowly be reducing the time spent napping. If so, in the week leading up to school starting, make sure that they’re not being tired out with busy days, and that they’re in bed early each night.
Having set bedtimes means that kids often wake up of their own accord ready to face the day, are much more agreeable and generally much more happy.
Missing breakfast isn’t really an option for schoolchildren. Many schools now provide a school breakfast, but for children who start the day at home, get them started with a filling meal that will help them absorb everything that school can teach them.
Having uniforms, lunches and any kit for extra-curricular activity ready the night before will make for a much more pleasant morning. Put in any foods that are non-perishable our the night before, and stack lunchboxes in the fridge with sandwiches, fruits and yogurts so that they’re ready to go! In the morning, pop it in and off you go!
If uniforms are out at the end of the bed the night before, the kids can get ready easier and quicker. As they get older, they’ll have to accept the consequences of leaving a shirt crumpled up in their schoolbag after football, so enjoy this whilst you can!
Even the best-laid plans will go to pot on occasion, but making a commitment to stay calm and accepting that the world isn’t ending will make this a much more positive transition for the whole family.
As the day approaches, drip-feed reminders of what is going to happen and what can be expected, but don’t make too much fuss. The kids will adjust much faster if this change is made as normal as possible.
If it is an option for you, walk to school. It’ll provide some down-time to chat and be silly between a chaotic morning routine and them being away from you for a few hours. Speaking of which, as heart-wrenching as it is to watch your treasures skip off into a new adventure, try not to let them see you cry. I’m sure we’d all find it very unsettling under the same circumstances!
Do you have children starting school this year? What changes are you implementing for a smooth transition? All the very best – you’ve got this!