The summer months pass so quickly, and before we know it, back to school will be on our minds. For 4 years olds, this means a whole new world, a place without mommy, daddy, or the regular caregiver. Longer days, crowded hallways, different rules and routines, and of course nervous parents. But don’t stress, just because you’ve been told your child has to be able to open their own Tupperware, there are a lot of ways to prepare your child, and yourself for this new adventure! 🙂
Starting school is a very exciting experience for children, parents and even the daycare staff in our centres who have cared for some of them since they were infants. At All About Kids, our focus is first and foremost to build confidence and provide age-appropriate challenging experiences, while ensuring your child is comfortable in our care. Read on to learn what we have found will help your little one develop the self-help and independent skills needed to enter into that journey with less anxiety and more self-confidence.
How can I help build confidence?
- Read books about starting school. Your child will become familiar with what to expect and know how to handle certain routines.
- Practice necessary life skills. Tying shoes, doing up zippers and buttons on jackets and backpacks, and yes even opening Tupperware!
- Set aside time in your day to teach your child the alphabet, shapes, colours, number recognition (at least 1-10) and writing or even tracing his or her own name.
All of the basic skills mentioned above will make your child more confident and a little ahead of the other students when they start school.
How can I keep my child challenged at home?
- Encourage your child to get involved in deciding about what they would like for lunch and snack.
- Ask your child to help make a grocery list of different fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy that they would like for school. Take them with you to the grocery store.
- Pack lunches together. Allow your child to come up with different lunches and snacks and let them help you wrap and pack them.
How do you teach a child to be comfortable?
The more you expose your child to adults who are authority figures or role models, whether it be teachers, soccer or gymnastics coaches, the piano or karate instructor, the more comfortable your child will be when that first day of school arrives. Here are some suggestions to make your child feel comfortable:
- Visit with the teacher and classroom. Most children by now have already had this opportunity earlier in the year
- Play in the schoolyard and talk about rules
- Practice walking to school, if this is how you will commute. Talk about traffic lights and signs, crossing guards, and stranger safety.
- Arrange play dates with kids in the neighbourhood or friends that will be in the same class, or school. This will further develop their social and emotional skills.
- Have a routine for your child, and start now. It may take at least 2 weeks for your child to get into that back to school routine.
What else can I do?
While most children are excited for that first step into formal education or “big school” as some of the children at All About Kids, call it, others may be fearful of that change from their smaller, comfortable, loving little preschool. Here are some other tips to help with the transition:
- Take your child on a shopping trip. Whether it is for a new backpack, running shoes, clothes, or school supplies, it can be a fun experience for a child to pick out what they like.
- If you have a child who is nervous, or you may think will have some separation anxiety, give them a special family photo, to take with them so that they can look at it if they are sad…include the dog too!
- If you can, take the day off work to be there for your child on his or her first day. And bring your camera! If this is not possible, and we understand it may not always be, leave your camera with us and we will take pictures of that special day for you.
Final words of wisdom
Continue all the wonderful things you do with your child in order to continue to develop their self-esteem and self-confidence. Leave notes in the backpack, lunch box. Kids love this and are proud to show their friends. They can be simple words, to pictures of dinosaurs eating a sandwich. And if you’re child can’t recognize words yet, or you can’t draw (although no one is judging), you can always turn to stickers. I mean what child doesn’t like stickers!
We’ve all heard that saying that kids are like sponges. And they are. But sponges can drip. And in order to ensure that our children don’t lose any of the precious learning and life lessons we teach them, they need to be refreshed and repeated regularly. Remember that you and all of the adults that care for your child play an integral role in preparing your child for school. So what will you do to ensure your child retains all that you teach?
Finally, on that first day of school, do not show that you are nervous or worried about your little one. Children pick up on their parent’s anxieties more than we think. Instead, be positive and show them that you are excited and proud of your child. If your child sees that you are comfortable then they too will be.
Good luck on your child’s first day!