Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of The Starting School Book, gives her tips on the best ways to prepare children for their first months at primary school.
“In these uncertain times, the more parents can prepare their children practically and emotionally for starting school, the more likely children are to embrace the experience and avoid anxiety.”
- Ask for a video tour and visit the school website
If your child’s school hasn’t managed to run any settling-in sessions, ask them if they can film a video tour of the school, to include important areas your child will visit regularly, plus staff photos (which you may be able to find online).
- Walk past school frequently
Try to walk past the school as often as you can with your child, pointing out their classroom, playground and entrance if visible, so the building and grounds are already familiar.
- Have practice runs
This will familiarise the process and the journey so there are no unfortunate surprises for your child, or you, on their first day.
- Practice putting on the uniform
If you’ve got younger children teach them how to put on and take off their school uniform independently. At school they’ll need to do this for PE lessons. It’s also a good idea to wear new shoes at home for a few days.
- Make sure they know which coat is theirs
Make sure your child recognises their own coat, can take it off, put it on and do it up independently; teach them how to hang it on a peg too.
- Be toilet-savvy
Teach your child how to lock and unlock a public toilet door, flush the toilet and make sure they know how to wipe independently and also wash their hands afterwards.
- Buy as uniquely as possible
Try to get easily identifiable water bottles and bags, so your child can easily spot theirs in a sea of 30 others.
The Starting School Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith is published by Piatkus, priced £14.99. Available now.