5 Tips for preparing for School or Kinder.
Lucas was at daycare 3 days a week for a while before he started school, so I thought he would make a smooth transition to school. But it was not to be. It was tears at line up for almost 2 weeks. He was fine, 5 minutes after we left he was fine, and we were lucky to have a lovely teacher who helped to ensure that he loved school.
I feel like I have learnt a few things, through getting them wrong, or right, and when I asked some friends if they found it hard there was a treasure of great ideas. So I have put together these tips hoping they will help you and your little ones transition.
TIP 1 - TALK ABOUT IT
This one was a top tip for many. We forget that the kids often have no idea what they are about to embark on - except that it's 'SCHOOL'.
Stacey said that they explained the routine - like drop off, class, morning tea, class, lunch, class, home. Which helps to stop them being overwhelmed.
Bron has been working on how she will transition her little girl, one of the tips she got from their kinder teacher...
Talk about it and if they show any anxiety get it out in the open and talk about it.
Talk about their teacher as soon as you know who it will be, e.g. "Do you think Miss Blah will like colouring in?" etc (same goes for things like transitioning to swimming lessons alone instead of with mum/dad).
TIP 2 - CHILLAX MAX.
Don't make it a huge deal! This is one of the things I think I did wrong. In saying that it's also super hard! Everyone asks 'When are you starting school? Which school are you going to?' and of course we want to take photos on the first day. Maybe we didn't do enough of TIP 1 - and didn't talk him through the day he would have.
One thing I would definitely NOT do again - I would not go inside. We went into the class room and then it was IMPOSSIBLE to get out again. Go into the classroom during transition, and after they have made it their space...but on that first day it wasn't a good idea for us. I think it would have been better to drop and run.
I wish I had known Jade before we went to Prep - how great is this idea - On the Sunday before school starts we have a special lunch, with our Prep's fav foods, and invite the grandparents etc to come. Prep wears his uniform and proudly shows off his new bag/lunchbox/shoes etc. Family photos etc. Really helps to get the hype done ahead of time, so on their first day it's chilled out.
TIP 3 - TRY IT OUT
Amanda and Maria both suggested: It's a good idea to get the kids to use their lunch box and drink bottle at home or on an outing so they know how to use it / open / close etc. That INCLUDES Glad wrap! If you use glad wrap on their lunches for school then you need to use that for the practice runs too. Nothing worse than not being able to get to the food you can see!
Maybe even set up a bit of a playtime snack, lunchtime routine so they realise they can't really eat all day. This one I also do now....so we have food when we're at work, and also so that Lucas (not me) don't attack the pantry all day long!
If you can, then during the holidays you could head to the school playground. Let the kids play on the swings, run around the oval. Maybe talk about the different buildings and what school might be like. Make it a place they know.
And of course, let them wear the uniform!
TIP 4 - BE CONSISTENT
From Megan: I have one tip that I have used with all 5 of mine. It works well in dealing with separation anxiety. I have always made sure that my parting words were always the same. I'd help with their bag, give a hug and kiss, say "goodbye" and then my last words would be "Mummy always comes back". Often I would pick them up and the first thing they would say to me is "Mummy always comes back, doesn't you Mummy!". I'm using this now with my youngest. My eldest turns 18 in March.
Get them used to routines by introducing new morning routines. For example, if you are currently doing breakfast at creche, since they can't do that once they starts school, switch to breakfast at home so they can get used to it.
TIP 5 - IT WILL BE ALRIGHT.
One Psychologist gave the advice - Don't stress if they're not "seeming" ready in terms of getting ready in the morning, doing their own shoes, etc -- it's apparently amazing how much it all changes once they actually start school, they suddenly just "get" it.... so if you have behavioural issues, you may just find that they improve immensely simply with the act of school starting.
Lucas was one of the most traumatised of the preps (at least from my perspective). The only one crying and clingy. It didn't take long before he would rush off to play with his friends before the bell. Just like we need time to get used to change, so do they. Give them love, ask questions and be positive.
Don't forget every child is different and your experience will be different to everyone else. There is no right and wrong way to do these things! Do what works for you and your little one.
ONE LAST THING - Don't forget about you!
I totally thought I would be fine....(I don't know myself very well!) I had a beauty appointment planned for just after my first prep drop off...a great idea I thought, to drown myself in the ME time that I comes with school days. It worked really well, but partly because my beautician understood the tears that kept slipping out of the corner of my eyes. For me, it was nice to talk about it, but not make a big deal about it. And oh the freedom! xx
EDIT - Additional tip: One of our crew on Instagram suggested doing a Hearing and Eye test before starting school. Much easier to deal with before they start, and if undetected could cause issues in class! Great tip.
- Helle Warming