I’ve worked in the childcare sector for over 10 years, and been a child photographer for 2 years and I know first hand that starting school or moving to a new school is always an anxious time for parents and children alike. But this year is something which none of us ever expected, and those levels of anxiety are naturally running higher, as transitions and preparations for school, which would normally happen have taken a different form or have been limited due to Covid-19. So this is why I wanted to share my experience and knowledge to help you support your child to start school.
You're coming up to one of the biggest milestones in your child’s life of them starting school, its natural to be feeling a mixed bag of emotions, including feeling all of them over the space of one day. Your not going through this transition to school alone, other parents will be too. Your child’s new school will be experienced at supporting your child. But there are lots of things you can do at home to help support and prepare your child for starting school , the crucial area is promoting their emotional and social development.
What can I do at home to help my child to become School Ready?
Supporting your child to develop Self-Care Skills
Self-Care means your child’s ability to meet their own basic daily needs. It’s about them doing things independently, without help or with limited support.
The more self-care skills your child has mastered before starting the school the easier it will be for them:
• Hand Washing
Continue to give your child reminders to wash their hands after going to the toilet & before eating.
• Going to the Toilet
Give your child encouragement and prompts when going to the toilet to make sure they are wiping properly, using toilet paper and flushing the toilet, and pulling clothes back up properly.
• Using a Tissue
Get your child to blow and wiping their nose independently and then putting the tissue in the bin.
• Dressing & Underdressing Themselves
Encourage your child to dress/undress independently. Let them practice putting on and taking off their school uniform, in preparation for P.E.
• Feeding themselves
Encourage your child to pour their own drink from a jug into a cup. If sending your child with a packed lunch, give them lots of practice at opening different food packets, or send them with food in different snack pots, which they can take the lid off. If having a hot meal your child will be expected to use a knife and fork. Encourage them to have their meals sitting at the table.
• Tidy up time
Your child will be expected to tidy up after themselves at school, so build this into your home routine e.g. hanging up their coat when you go inside, tidying away their toys, clearing their plate and cup from the table.
Talking about School
Its good to engage your child in lots of conversations about School.
There are lots of different things you can do:-
· Look at the School’s Website or Brochure and use this as a starting point for conversation.
· Read stories on starting school e.g. Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School. For other stories check out the list here:
· Show your child photographs of you or other family members from your time at school and talk about all your happy memories and the types of enjoyable things you did.
· Talk though what the School Day will be like with your child and you could use pictures to go with this e.g. classroom time, break time, classroom time, lunch time, assembly, P.E.
· Devise a set of questions about school and have a set of emotion face cards, so your child can use the emotion card, if they struggle to find the actual words to express their feelings-you can download a free set of emotion cards from:
What can you do to help your child settle in during the first few weeks of School?
All children are different, and some will settle quicker than others. Its normal for children to go through a clingy and upset stage, but stay strong they will become settled. You know your child the best, so it’s important to pass on key information about your child to their new teacher. Developing a positive relationship with your child’s teacher will also help your child to feel more relaxed when they see you both getting on positively.
Your child might be super sleepy or even super hungry when they come home, so let them have a sleep or an energy boosting snack to help them get use to longer days and new daily routine.
The best thing is to regularly talk to your child about their feelings on school, this will help you to see how they are copying with school and will highlight if they need any extra support to settle and adjust to this permanent change.
Other Sources of Support on Starting School
I have operated my portrait photography business in the Norwich and Great Yarmouth area for the last 2 years, and before that I have worked in the childcare industry, this has allowed me to pick up lots of local knowledge on sources of support and information available which I regularly share with my clients during photoshoots. There are two more useful sources below:
Norfolk County Council-Moving on (transition in education)
Parent Kind-Preparing your child for school
Starting School for the first time or moving up to bigger School is a precious milestone to record and will be a memory you will want to treasure forever. It is also a great thing to look back on when your child is older. Parents often express their sadness at their child’s first school photograph for a number of reasons; their child might not be looking at the camera, they might have hair over their face, not have their uniform on correctly or be sitting really awkwardly. So this is why I am now offering my Back to School Photoshoots at my Norfolk based photography studio. I provide a relaxed and pressure free environment to capture that perfect shot of your child in their school uniform. One of my School photoshoots will provide a beautiful way to capture this important change in your child's life. If you want to find out more about my Back to School Photoshoot, for which I only have a few slots still available click here
I really hope this blog has helped you with some ideas and tips to use to support your child with starting school. if you have any tips that have worked for you, I'd love to share these with my readers and clients, please let me know on my social media platforms Instagram or Facebook
or comment below.
Written by G.Hampton 18/08/20
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