Starting school is one of the biggest milestones in a child’s life.
I can still remember vividly not just the day I started school but all the build up … the visits, the daffodil picture on my peg & tray that I was convinced was a dandelion, trying to remember my teacher’s name. And that was an awfully long time ago.
And even though many children now go to nursery, pre-school or kindergarten before they start formal school, starting school “for real” is still a big transition in the whole family’s life, not just educationally but emotionally and practically.
And starting school raises a whole host of questions and “to dos” for parents including …
- How will my child need to adapt their behaviour? How can I help?
- What new “stuff” will they need?
- How can we get all this “stuff” without breaking the bank?
- How are we going to work the school run?
- Will we need new childcare? How can we afford it?
- What’s the best option for school meals?
- What happens if they don’t like it?
As we’ll be going through this soon, I’ve begged and borrowed tips and to dos from all the mums I know who’ve been through it and put them in a list … please do help me build the list by adding your own tips …
Starting School – A Check List
- Find out which other children from local streets, nursery, church etc are going
- Find out which friends of friends are going
- Arrange informal play dates so your child knows as many faces as possible
- Switch into the school bedtime & morning routine two weeks before starting
- Do a dry run of the school run so you’re sure how long it really takes
- Arrange any changes to work start time to support school run as early as possible
- Confirm whether breakfast club provided & if & when you need to apply
- Confirm whether after school club provided & if & when need to apply
- Arrange any after school childcare required if you are working
- Check if school does half days for first few weeks and adapt childcare or book time off work if necessary to support this
- Confirm what provision school makes for meals and snacks
- Decide whether your child will be eating school provided meals or taking their own
- Go on as many visits as possible to increase familiarity as much as possible
- Encourage your child to dress and undress themselves independently
- Encourage your child to put their shoes & take them off independently
- Ensure your child is eating all meals with cutlery rather than fingers
- Start weaning your child off favourite toys & blankets
- Read lots of books about starting school
- Make sure you’re absolutely sure of any uniform requirements
- Let your friends & friends of friends know if you’re open to hand me downs
- Find out from school about second hand suppliers
- Get feet measured & buy shoes that will stand up to a year’s wear & tear
- Put labels in clothes
- Talk to children about the cost of clothes & importance of looking after them
- Advise school of any allergies & ensure they understand procedure for handling
- Advise school of any medical needs & ensure understand procedure for handling
- Talk to school about special educational needs & confirm support they will provide
- In preceding months build up time each day sitting at a table for an activity
- Find out about toilet arrangements – children in pre-school may be used to going whenever they need to whilst in school may need to ask and wait, ensure your child understands arrangements
- Create a special spot for storing school bag, coat, shoes etc
- Create a routine for getting bag, coat, shoes etc ready the night before
- Create a daily routine for talking about each day … the good stuff & the bad
- Take a picture of them on their first day & make it an annual tradition
- Get to know parents of other children as quickly as possible
- Build relationship with teachers – raise concerns early but also share the good stuff