If you follow me over on Instagram, then you’ll know that Elsie’s school induction day didn’t quite go to plan.
It was completely my fault. It perhaps would have been a good idea to read the letter detailing the induction day properly in advance. Where I might have picked up on the part that said, “you will be given a wealth of information in the school hall, whilst your child meets their reception teacher.” That was indeed the important part that I kind of skimmed over.
The Induction Day Fail
Call me naive. But I just didn’t think that we would be expected to just leave our three-year-old with a stranger, in a strange place on the first day.
Nope it was like ripping off a particularly manky plaster.
Within five minutes of entering her classroom, a teaching assistant came over and explained to Elsie that Mummy and Daddy needed to leave her. With absolutely no heads up. Which went down really well to an already anxious three-year-old. I reiterate the
To say it was awful was an understatement.
Elsie pretty much clawed my neck and we then miss half the sodding talk anyway because I was sobbing the minuscule toilets whilst I listened to her screaming for us. So as
Trying To Be Positive
Now, more than ever I really need to focus on turning this experience around and making sure that we can encourage Elsie to look forward to starting school again. As sadly at this moment, she is not and she doesn’t even want to talk about anything starting school related.
So I’m really pleased to introduce the second instalment of The Starting School Series today. I’ve asked a few of my good friends who are teachers as well as parents, what kind of advice would you give to parents who are experiencing the school transition.
I found so much of their advice really thoughtful and useful and I really hope that some of you do too.
Starting School Advice From The Teachers (Who Happen To Be Parents Too)
The best things you can do to help your child prepare for school is to encourage them to be as independent as possible. Putting their own shoes and socks on, learning to tidy up (just a little not the whole house) and use a knife and fork – they don’t have to have this nailed but start now as life skills are more helpful than the academic stuff in some ways especially in a class of 30 with just 2 adults … if they can’t do it they soon will!
Encourage Literacy Skills
Read stories to your child – never underestimate the importance of that bedtime story! It’s key to early literacy skills.
Sing good old fashioned nursery rhymes – recognising and understanding rhyming words is key for early reading skills.
Develop Fine Motor Skills
Don’t stress about name writing but try to help them to develop
fine motor skills by doing threading activities, colouring, playdough – any activity that ensure their fingers are strong and coordinated ready for writing. their
Delayed Emotional Outbursts
Be prepared that your children might not cry in the first few days (you will) and then just as you start to relax then
This is nothing to worry about it’s just the tiredness kicking in and the reality that they have to do this forever!!! Stay calm and positive and the storm will pass.
They will be so knackered that first term, so keep the after school and weekend activities low key. Even those kids who have been in full-time daycare find it’s hard because of all the new information and expectations – just think how exhausted you are when you start a new job!
When they cry it’s all for your benefit. Once you’ve gone they’re absolutely fine and very happy! I have taught many criers with different parents. The parents that leave straight away usually have the children who stop crying once distracted. The parents that stay to try and stop their children from crying won’t stop until their parents leave.
It’s really hard when they’re stuck to you though- I have been guilty of this so many times, Madeleine has had to be peeled off me! But once you leave, they stop crying and are very happy to learn and explore in their environment.
A “hug from Mummy & Daddy,” (or the child’s guardian) is a really sweet idea which I’ve seen a few children and parents use. It’s just a simple image which is sewn into their clothes so they can see it when they feel down. Dorothy and Theodore make an iron hug which you can find here. You could also draw a heart or cross on their hand. Which they can press if they need a little boost at any point of the day.
Practice The Journey
Walk the walk in advance. Do the journey. Rehearse it and create landmarks. Maybe even return home and make a map too for them to follow and take the lead.
For us, it was his favourite fruit or yoghurt and I wouldn’t let him see it, but telling him at drop off it’s in there. I would also tell him to remember that when it gets to the point of eating it there’s only a little bit more time until he comes home.
Say Your Goodbyes & Walk Away
After the drop-off, walk away and cry. Paint the face/wear the mask and under no circumstance let them see you are upset about leaving them! Walk away if they cry too. A good
squeezeyhug then go. It makes it easier for them, you and the staff. Lingering is not helpful for anyone.
Ensure your child can recognise their own name. Play games over the summer using chalk, scrambled tiles, magnetic letters, water writing on patios etc. This will all help to make peg finding or self registration much easier for them.
Practice Getting Dressed & Undressed
Help them to practice putting their uniform on and taking it off. Practice buttons, zips and clasps over the summer. It’s really important that when they need the toilet that they don’t have lots of obstacles in their way.
What Made You Smile Today?
Try to avoid demanding to know that they did during their school day. It was hard, even as a teacher to not quiz him on his day. Instead, we decided that at dinner time we all have to say the best two things we did or that made us smile during the day. It often sparks conversation about Max’s day and we end up finding out more.
Make Friends With Other Parents
In the early weeks if there’s a park near the school, maybe suggest a few post-school half-hours plays to some of the other parents. Everyone is in the same boat and it helps the little ones establish early friendships. The park keeps it low-key and less off-putting to shy kids- and parents! From that mum what’s app groups can start and bam… life immediately gets easier!
Thank you so much to Laura, Anna and Claire for giving up your precious time and advice to support this blog post. I really appreciate it and I know that other parents will do too!