If your child is starting school this year you may be worrying about how to set them up for a successful and happy start. You may even have shed a tear wondering how on earth this milestone can already be upon you. Fear not! This blog will share with you the top five things that you child actually needs to be able to do before starting school.
1. Toilet independently - before you panic, accidents happen and they are a staple part of being in the Early Years. Your child's teachers will help your child if they have an accident, or if they need some assistance in doing the deed. However, you can imagine that with a full class of 30 four year olds it is incredibly helpful if your child can go to the toilet, organise their clothing and wash their hands independently.
2. Listen and follow instructions - even though most of the day will be spent playing, your child will have some teacher lead time during their school day. Being able to follow instructions is useful for learning, but also for keeping themselves and others safe. You could practise this at home with some fun listening games.
3. Name recognition - if you child can recognise their name (in written form) then they will easily be able to identify their coat peg and drawer. This also means that they will feel a sense of ownership and have a sense of belonging in that a small slice of this classroom belongs to them. This will go a long way in them feeling that they belong and settled in their new routine.
4. Pre-writing shapes - these are a series of shapes and marks that children need to be able to do BEFORE they can be expected to pick up a pencil and write. The shapes are: | - O + /\ X a square and a triangle. They will progress through these shapes so don't worry if they can't do them all before they start. Try to make mark-making really fun and imaginative, the less sitting at a table the better! Try painting the pavement with water on a sunny day, or using a stick in some mud!
5. Emotional regulation - This final one is the most difficult and again is a process so don't worry if your 4yr old hasn't mastered it yet, some adults haven't either! It is important that it is simply part of their vocabulary and thought processes. You can help your child by naming their emotions as well as naming your own and modelling how to manage big feelings. Create a list together of things that you can do to calm down if you're feeling upset or angry.
If this blog post has been of interest to you then you may find my School Ready play pack useful too. School Ready is full of fun activities and play ideas to support your child's emotional wellbeing in the transition to starting school. Check it out here.
Good luck to you and your little one - starting school is quite the milestone!