Is your child starting primary school in September? Parent, teacher and childhood separation and anxiety expert, Stacey Turner – author of I’m Going To Nursery, part of the My Tiny Books series – shares 22 tips that your child’s teacher would love you to know…
As a teacher, we can help settle, support and teach other children, but as a parent, when it comes to your own child, it’s a whole different ball game. Here, Stacey Turner offers a wish list of points that teachers would love to share with new parents, including important tips to aid a smooth transition for you and your child as they start school after the long summer break – and particularly useful for those parents who are new to the whole ‘school thing’…
1. Remember your teacher is human too and doesn’t have magical powers, but he or she is an incredible person with a lot of patience and experience in settling the class.
2. Never underestimate the value in a nutritional, balanced breakfast and a good night’s sleep for a successful day ahead.
4. PE kits are just as important as the uniform, so having this ready from the first day places an importance on PE and nurtures responsibility. When buying trainers, if your child can’t do laces, buy good Velcro ones you know your child can easily put on and off.
5. Ensure everything of your child’s is labelled clearly.
6. Be as organised as you can! It helps if your child turns up ready with everything they need for the day. Many parents choose to organise most things the night before.
7. Ensure your teacher and teaching assistants are aware of any medical needs. Please don’t assume they know – your teachers want to hear the details from you to ensure correct care is provided for your child.
8. While transitional objects are important for settling and soothing, please do not send your child in with treasured possessions. Teachers can’t be held responsible for returning them at the end of each day.
9. If you need to discuss your child, please ask to have a couple of minutes one-to-one, as morning drop-off or afternoon pick-up times are not ideal for a private conversation.
10. If you have an anxious child or a child known to suffer from separation anxiety, let your teachers know so they can work with you to help at drop-off, especially if it’s causing you to get upset too. There are lots of techniques to put in place to offer support for a softer start.
11. Remember your teacher/s want your child to settle as much as you do!
12. It’s a nice idea to practice eating in a dining room scenario with a little tray, plate, cup and cutlery. Leave a little space for the pudding! Show them how to clear away, throw leftovers in the bin, place cutlery away to be washed etc. If your child is taking a packed lunch, ensure you’re sending in containers that can be opened by your child and packing that is easily opened.
13. Soon your child will be given a reading journal and will be bringing home books. You need to sign this to show your child’s teacher/s they’re being read and can be changed. Get used to reading with your child as much as possible and from the world around them, such as road signs and menus, tracing and creating letters in any way you can through art and creative play.
14. Reading is an important part of every day; if your child is irritable, read to them to distract them.
15. Check your child’s bag daily, teachers often have a communication diary and pop any notes and even party invitations in the bag.
16. We beg you not to compare your child to others, every child learns at their own pace, so be guided by your own child. School readiness is NOT just about being able to read phonetically and count.
17. Keep your child at home if he or she is poorly to avoid spreading the illness to their classmates.
18. We must mention nits. It’s a good idea to wash your child’s hair with an appropriate nit-deterrent shampoo, and please check your child’s hair regularly.
19. Be prepared at pick-up with snacks to tide them over on the journey home, or to their after-school activity. They will be hungry and quite often irritable. Having a snack helps to not only settle hunger, but hopefully calm and soothe any pent-up tension from having to behave all day.
20. Prepare for after-school meltdowns by understanding how hard it is for a 4/5-year-old to hold it together all day. Don’t overload your child with lots of after-school activities or play dates, give them time to settle in and give them the space to wind down, relax and get used to the school routine.
21. With the start of school comes forming friendships and learning about relationships. If your child comes home and is sad about another child/other children, please speak to your teacher/s. While you’re urged not to take things too literally, your child’s emotional and social skills are emerging and we want to ensure your child is nurtured through this.
22. Please trust us! If you have any problems, go and talk to your child’s teacher/school immediately. Any teething issues can be resolved, so don’t hesitate. Any teacher worth their weight knows the importance of effective communication and supporting the parents.
We all need to work together to help your child to settle in, learn and thrive in a happy and healthy environment.
Author of I’m Going to Nursery, Stacey Turner, has first-hand experience of childhood anxiety and separation anxiety through her role as an early-years teacher and a mother of two girls. For more information, go to mytinybook.com