Teach key skills before your toddler goes to school
KEY SKILLS TO TEACH YOUR CHILD BEFORE THEY START SCHOOL
Like every parent, you want your child to have as smooth a transition into school as possible.
There are a number of things you can start doing with them to help them prepare for the changes which lie ahead, and here we give you the lowdown on what those little things, which will make a big difference, are.
To recognise their name
At school, your child will have their name written on a whole host of different items. From their coat peg, to their drawer. Many primary schools will also use images to help your child start to recognise their name, so don’t worry about them being very confident about recognising it, but any help you can give them to start to practice will be helpful for them – a good way to start is helping them just start to recognise the letter that their name begins with.
To use the toilet independently
Your child being able to go to the toilet on their own, wipe their bottom and pull down/pull up their pants/trousers, are going to be very useful skills for them to have. Don’t worry too much about your child having accidents at school, this is pretty common in reception, and the staff will understand. There will be a lot of new and exciting things happening for your child, and it can just be so exciting and distracting at first!
Conversely, you may find that your child does use the toilet at school at the bare minimum, and will be desperate to go when they get home. Again, this is very normal behaviour – they are just ready to go when they feel comfortable, safe and relaxed, back in their home.
To put their coat on and off
This will be something which your child will need to do several times a day – at the start and end of school, and for each break time. The teaching staff will be there to support them with this, but obviously if they can start to learn to do it on their own, they’ll be able to get out to play and enjoy their break times a lot quicker!
When you go shopping for your child’s school coat, try and choose one which is as simple for them to fasten/unfasten as possible!
To get dressed/undressed
Your child will have PE lessons at school, and will need to get changed in and out of their day clothes into kit and back again. Again, the teaching staff will help the children, but any support you have already given them to learn how to do this will be very helpful. Simple things, like helping them recognise which the front and back of their clothes are, and what order to put their clothing on, will really help them.
When you buy your child’s PE kits/school clothing, you can also make this as simple as possible by looking for easy-on shoes and clothing – Velcro and elasticated waistbands are helpful for avoiding more tricky buttons, etc.
To eat together
Children will take their lunches together at school, usually sitting around tables together. It can be helpful to help them understand the social rules of eating together, and making sure they feel confident using a knife and fork.
If your child is having a packed lunch, just check that they understand how to open the items you are putting in there – like yogurts oranges. Remind them that they can ask for help with opening anything they find tricky.
To ask questions
Make sure your child knows that it is ok to ask questions when they are unsure about something or need something, like going to the toilet.
To enjoy learning
If your child is at a traditional primary school there will be a lot of emphasis in the first years in supporting them to learn to count and read. Schools have lots of fun ways to help children learn to do this, so don't worry too much about them needing to go in knowing certain things already. But there is no harm in helping them know some basics before they get there, as it will make it easier for them.
Just little games, like counting items around the home (toys, food, etc), showing your child different shapes or colours, reading them a story and discussing it together.