Today, Big D was measured up for her first school uniform. This should have been a coming-of-age affair full of joy and emotion. Unfortunately, my two little monkeys had different ideas. Over-tired Little D and a super-hyper Big D, who was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement, competed to destroy the peace!
Big D is well and truly ready for school. Her first two encounters with pre-prep so far have been an assessment done in the style of a playdate where she was offered a biscuit and given a balloon at home time, and the annual school Summer fete where she got her face painted – so it’s understandable she thinks it’s the best place EVER!
And why not? I loved school and truly hope my daughter enjoys her education. But life’s not, as my teacher once said, a fairy dairy land where ferocious dogs are banned. I worry about her spirit being knocked by some event or circumstance I won’t be able to control (such as doing badly in a test, or over a boy or getting on the wrong side of the school bully).
I’m thrilled with the school she’ll be going to and when I looked around it I felt that it would be the perfect place for her and eventually her sister to thrive. But at the same time, it scares me that during school days my little Angel will be looked after and nurtured by someone else. Who she becomes as a person will in no small part be shaped by those 5 days a week when I’m not there, have no say, and no control.
Her teacher will be in loco parentis, and it will be down to the skill, humanity and passion of that teacher to bring my little bean on. I’m sure it will go well, but as with everyone (whether at school or work), there will be ups and downs. I’ve always been there to deal with any upset, but now I won’t be. Not all the time.
There’s not very much one can do to prepare a child for the trials and tribulations of school life, other than through love help to develop their self-confidence and self-esteem. But to make sure she hits the floor running, I’ll be trying to focus on a few things over the next couple of months to help her survive the settling in period.
- Role Play – This is something we first did at the time of her assessments to try and get her to understand the teacher student roles and it seemed to work well. I pretend to be the teacher and I might make her and her sister sit for story time or draw a picture of do some reading. Activities don’t last for any more than 10 minutes as I don’t want to drag the activity out so it becomes a chore.
- Shop the uniform – Judging on how exciting Big D found today getting them involved with trying on their uniform is a great way to get them excited to start school. I’ve also been pointing out fellow school children in their uniform so that she identifies with her soon to be daily style.
- Talk to Grown Ups – It may be that your little ones are only really used to talking to family members and friends. Suddenly, they’re going to have to meet a whole new load of grown-ups from their head teacher, class teacher to the dinner ladies which I imagine would be quite daunting to a four year old. I’ve been trying to encourage Big D to have conversations with other grown-ups in the grocery shop or coffee shop.
- Following Instructions – In my house this can go well one day and terribly the next. I have however been trying to get Big D to do simple things like bring me her plate and cup after she’s eaten or pick up her clothes from the floor and pop them in the laundry bin. Let’s just say this is work in progress!
- Toilet Rules – Encouraging your child to learn how to clean themselves correctly after they have been to the loo is high on my priorities and learning to remember to flush the loo is something I’m currently working on.
- Give them a head start – Try to encourage them to write their own name, learn to read and get them counting. Although they will not be expected to do this when they start in September any head start must help them on their little journey.
- Get chatting – Encourage them to talk about their thoughts on school, what they think it will be like, what they will be doing. Tell them stories from when you were little – Big D loves hearing about my time at school and hearing the teachers names, she really loves the idea that I was little once and she will be having the same experiences as me.
- Friends United – If you know of any other local children that will be in the same class arrange a play date so they can get to know one another before school starts. We all know what it feels like to walk into a room full of strangers and a familiar face may be the calming beacon of light your child needs to see on their first day at school.
- Reading Material – There are some great books that focus on preparing for school that make great bedtime reading.
- Work Books – A great thing to take away on holiday to keep them entertained at the table. Big D loves working through work books for reading, numbers and writing.
If like me you feel a little daunted and overcome by what lies ahead I hope this helps. Just sitting down and writing this helps me to focus and hopefully subconsciously help Big D.
Love Mummy B