From: Tina Woodward – Team Leader / Early Years Professional

Tip:  Priming Up For Primary

As September is creeping up on us all, we thought our tip of the month should focus on transitions and how to help children with change. Many of our 4 years old’s, (or very nearly 4year old’s!) will be embarking on their new lives at Primary School in a matter of weeks and the change of routine, the lack of familiar faces and lots of new children to meet and befriend can cause the children to become quite anxious (and the parents!)

Here is just a handful of tips and ways to try and reduce anxiety and keep everyone in the household that bit calmer for the exciting changes that lie ahead.

Give them security.

Children are always less anxious and worried when they feel secure. Mums and Dads talking to friends about the “big changes” and “how scary it is they’re off to school” can sometimes be overheard and taken the wrong way – thus leading to worry and unsettled thoughts.

Making sure they know that anything and everything is ok for them to share with you is a great place to start. Knowing that they’re safe from the standpoint and that nothing they could do or say would ever change our love for them.

Exploring old memories or change with your child is a great way to show them how they have dealt with these emotions before. So, if you’ve moved to a new house, they’ve changed daycare or even smaller things like changing bedrooms – anything that shows change and how they have coped will reassure your child that normality will resume very soon.

Uniform and being independent

Primary School start dates come with purchases of numerous school uniform items for parents. Some children will have experienced uniform before at certain groups and classes such as football kits, or ballet dress codes, but many won’t have had to wear it daily.

For some parents it brings a sense of relief as no more arguments over choosing the outfit for the day – others it will send shivers of dread up their spines.

We have seen lots of techniques over the years on how to make uniforms fun for a child. One of the best was to get them to dress a bear or teddy up in their uniform, so they learn how to put it on before trying to do it themselves. Practice makes perfect as some fastenings will be quite different from what they are used too.

Also getting your child to do other tasks independently will all help them prepare for how they will be treated in school. Don’t forget to focus on small tasks that will make a big difference to a child starting reception class: being able to put on their own shoes; to get dressed/undressed without help (think of the PE lessons!); independently going to the toilet and washing their hands; and crucially, having the confidence to ask an adult for help (they will be on a different ratio at school, with only a teacher and classroom assistant, so they will need to ask for help if they need it). Independence skills are vital. Encourage all children to ‘have a go’ and provide challenging activities. Children who are able to write their own name is a bonus too (but by no way essential so don’t panic!)

Storytime

As always, reading about different situations can help children understand things better as well as calming nerves.

There are many books out there on ‘going to school’ or stories of children at school and their adventures. We know many parents that bought books ahead of when a sibling arrived, and this is no different. Reading about a school before September comes around is a great way to prepare children and make it a family activity.

Time for TV

Whichever TV channel you watch with your child, there are many programmes that are linked to school life. From Topsy and Tim on CBeebies to Arthur on CBBC and Peppa Pig on Milkshake – they will all give your child an idea of what school is like.

Make sure you ask questions whilst watching an episode – from what did they learn today? To what colour were their uniforms etc – engaging with your child will make it easier to talk about their up and coming school days.

Tiredness

Even if your child does long days at nursery already, the change in routine and the need to stay more focused in a classroom setting can leave your little ones overtired.

We have heard many stories of tantrums and breakdowns at the dinner table in those first few weeks. It is all normal and all part of adjusting to the new way of life.

Try not to ask too much of your children in those first few weeks, it will take a little while for the whole family to adjust to the new routine.

Some parents find that bringing bedtime forward a little can help in lowering the tears. Even just by thirty minutes for the first few weeks as it is likely he or she will be tired and ready to go sleep sooner than usual.

We also suggest a good hearty breakfast as a great way to prepare them for the days ahead and give them the extra energy they need – using their brains is tiring work.

 The first day

 Before we all know it, the summer will be over and the first day will be here. Many parents do worry about how they will be on that all-important first day as well as how their child will react. Try not to over think everything too much – but here are a few tips on separation.

Yes, separation anxiety can be a very real thing for both parents and children but if you make a plan in advance then the tearful goodbye at the classroom door might be a little less traumatic.

The following tips can be effective:

  • Show your child that you trust the teacher – form an initial relationship with the teacher in front of your child and let them see that you trust this new person.
  • Say goodbye, properly – resist the urge to sneak out of the classroom in the hope that your child might not notice.
  • Once you say goodbye leave promptly – avoid hanging around but reassure them that you will be picking them up later on.

As we mentioned in the last newsletter, Tina has already begun organising meetings with parents whose children do leave First Steps very soon.  These meetings are our way of updating all parents on the development of their child, to alleviate any worries, answer any questions and get across how much we will miss your little ones!

If parents do wish to know any more information, please contact Ian on hello@firststepspoynton.co.uk or call 01625 859867.