A teacher’s guide:
Three ways to prepare your child for school this summer
By Chloë Tonkin.
Time flies when you’re having fun and, sadly, we’re already over half-way through the infamous British summer. As the weeks flash by, the start of a brand-new chapter is fast approaching for many children; the start of school.
Some children will be looking forward to school. Others will be dreading it, scared and uncertain about the challenge ahead. All children are different and whether your child is one who cannot wait to get started, or one who needs a little encouragement, there are actions you can take to help them feel as ready and as confident as possible.
To help we spoke to Joanne Sains, a teacher from Darlington, about what parents can do this summer to best prepare their child for the start of school. Here are her top three tips:
Talk to them about what they expect
Joanne believes that it is “really important to enjoy the summer without worrying too much” and that “children adapt quickly.”
She says in order to help your child, you need to talk to them about what they expect school to be like. This will help you to establish how they feel about it, and give you the chance to share a more realistic picture. Whether your child is happy or afraid to start school, good communication is key.
Listen to your child when they tell you about their dread of school, without interrupting them, trying to comfort them or sharing your own thoughts. Then ask questions to get a deeper understanding of what your child thinks or feels. Only when your child has finally been "emptied" of their thoughts, ask, "Do you want to hear what I think?"
2) Make links with routines at home
Making the effort to familiarise yourself with school life, and your child’s new weekly routine, will be hugely beneficial once school has started. However, it can be very helpful to start building these routines into home life during the summer, before school begins.
“Try to make links with routines at home and how they are similar or different to those at nursery or school,” says Joanne.
The concept of sitting down and listening to an adult is unusual and something which your child is unlikely to have experienced before. The act of putting a coat or bag on a peg could be completely alien to them. Can your child put their own coat on? Gloves? Hat? Practising some of these routines will help your child to adapt to their new environment. Being able to dress on their own, go to bed alone, stand in line, and wait for a walk, makes the transition from nursery to school much easier.
3) Play is everything
Children learn through play. With everyday games, and digital games like Poio, learning is incidental - especially when more than one person is involved. World-famous toy company LEGO has even funded a study into what can be gained by learning through play, stating that “learning through play happens through joyful, actively engaging, meaningful, and socially interactive experiences.” (Page 3).
Joanne recommends following your child’s interests to identify learning opportunities. She says, “If your child is interested in dinosaurs, use that. Dinosaur begins with “d”. What other words do we know that begin with “d”? Look at dinosaur pictures. What words could we use to describe the dinosaur?”
In order to prepare your child for learning, Joanne insists “play is everything.”
Give your child the best possible start to their reading journey!
Download the learn-to-read game Poio.