Whether it’s starting a new school or returning after a holiday, it can be daunting and an emotional time for everyone.
BUT do not fear, there’s so much we can do to help prepare children for starting school, to build their confidence and support them as they make the transition and make new friendships at primary school.
We’ve teamed up with Camilla, parenting expert, mum of four and previous early years’ teacher to get some top tips.
Firstly, we need to manage our expectations and know our own children. Some children will be naturally more extroverted and drawn to socialising; whilst others will be more introverted and feel content in their own company, doing their own thing. Both are fine, but if we know our child, then we know what to expect.
Prepare your child ahead of time for a playdate and for generally meeting new children – talk over a number of things:
Encourage them to get dressed by themselves and get excited and proud about wearing the school uniform. M&S along with other high street stores do great school uniforms. You can now buy Non-Iron and Stain Resistant shirts, perfect for the day-to-day wear and tear of the school classroom and handy velcro top button, making getting dressed easier. Also practice putting on shoes and sports kit.
Children often don’t start to form ‘proper’ friendships until well into primary school, but you can encourage them to think about other people’s perspectives and the qualities needed in friendship much sooner.
Practising turn-taking by playing simple games, or alternating with you to do something fun like jump in a puddle, it really helps develop their ability to wait their turn.
You can empathise with them that it’s hard to wait your turn which will help them develop their own ability to be more considerate.
Counting to ten and then letting someone else have a go and vice versa is a great way to encourage friendship.
I remember during the summer before my daughter started school, we did some role-play on conversation openers. At the end of the first day, when I collected her, she said:
‘Mummy I was so good at making friends. I said to that girl there “Hello, my name’s Scarlett, what’s your name? And then we went to play on the climbing frame”.
When your child is starting school, it can feel very nerve-wracking for everyone. We don’t want them to pick up on our anxiety, so be careful to be very positive about the whole thing. That doesn’t mean we brush their feeling under the carpet, on the contrary, we need to help them to express their feelings, but they don’t need to know if we’re anxious as it makes it much worse for them.
Our next blog by Camilla will be about how to develop strong self-esteem and independence in our children. Consequently, it will be far less likely for them to be bullied or teased. So watch out for the next blog to tell you how to raise your child’s self-esteem.