Time for big school: ready for reception?

As the days tick away and September creeps nearer, thousands of parents will be preparing their offspring to make their first big step into the world and start school.  Workingmums.co.uk looks at ways to smooth the transition for this oh-so-important milestone.

As the days tick away and September creeps nearer, thousands of parents will be preparing their offspring to make their first big step into the world and start school.  Workingmums.co.uk looks at ways to smooth the transition for this oh-so-important milestone.

The day your child starts school can be both exciting and daunting – for both of you.  It is the first real marker in their lives and signals they have left behind the days of being a toddler and now must take the next step of life into the learning environment.  You will both have to get used to your son or daughter no longer being with you all the time if you are a stay-at-home mum or work from home, and if you work part or full-time you will need to alter childcare arrangements for school pick-ups, so there will be major changes all round.

The run-up
In the run-up to starting reception, you need to make sure your child is capable of doing certain things for herself or himself.  They need to be able to go to the toilet by themselves and also need to be able to put on shoes and socks and hats and coats.  A teacher and classroom assistant have many children to deal with, so youngsters should be fairly proficient at dressing themselves for outings and PE lessons, particularly when it comes to fastening buttons.  Most schools advise parents to buy shoes with Velcro fittings for their children.  If you think your child is struggling when it comes to dressing themselves, have a fun session with the dressing up box and help them with zips, buttons and taking clothes off over their heads.  If they learn during an enjoyable experience, they are more likely to remember how to do it.
Top tip: Talk up how your son or daughter will have lots of new exciting activities and will make new friends.  Your excitement about it will be catching.  If you’re nervous, don’t let it show.

Bedtimes
In the first couple of weeks before the start of school, get your child into a good bedtime routine.  Put them into bed at the same time every night and give them a wake-up call at the time they would need to get up to get ready for school.  A bleary-eyed child will struggle to focus.

First day
If you feel you may get emotional on the first day and possibly be a little teary-eyed at the thought of your ‘little baby’ leaving you to go out into the big, wide world, do not let it show.  If you inadvertently show you are feeling upset, your child will pick up on it immediately and will then start to worry about you.  It might be hard, but you have to practise putting on a big smile and sounding confident when you say ‘goodbye’ and hand them over.  If they cry – and this is quite normal - be matter-of-fact and tell them you have to go now and will be back at home time to pick them up.  If a child is a little upset, the teacher or classroom assistant will get them interested in something and the sniffles will soon stop.  Don’t be tempted to go back – you have to trust the teacher.  On the other hand, if there are some genuine worries on your part about your child settling in, have a word with the teacher.
Make sure your child knows who is going to be picking them up each night  or if they have to go to an after-school club – the better-informed they are, the more easily they will adjust to their new surroundings.  Remember to tell the teacher too if another adult will be picking them up. 

Be tolerant
Your child may become clingier or grumpier as they try to absorb all of the newness of their surroundings and the school day .  Be tolerant of their behaviour – it will probably just be transitory.  However, bear in mind they will be very tired so maybe it’s best not to enrol them in new activities or clubs at the weekends and stick solely to school at the moment.





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