As September approaches, I am getting more and more anxious about my little boy returning to school and starting year 4. After 6 months of homeschool I am going to miss him so much.

I remember this time four years ago and how daunting it was for both of us as the biggest change in our family life loomed just around the corner. I felt overwhelming anxiety and sadness that life as we knew it was never going to be the same again. I cannot imagine how parents of this year’s reception intake must be feeling. I am fairly certain that whatever you expected your little one’s transition to big school to look like, it’s probably all been thrown into turmoil as Covid 19 and lockdown wreaked havoc in all of our lives, all around the world.

No school visits, no meet and greet with the teachers, no organised play dates with new classmates but what can still be done to prepare your little one for the start of their big school journey.

Emotional support:

  • Talk positively about starting school. Listen to and acknowledge any fears that they may have, particularly during this time when children have already over recent months experienced significant changes to their daily lives and routines.
  • Help your child to build their confidence. Asking for help when they don’t understand something is a good thing and that it is okay to ask to use the toilet.
  • It is perfectly normal to feel anxious and very wobbly as parents, but try to not let your little ones pick up on this. It will only add to their anxiety.
  • Remind your child about kindness and treating other children in a way they would want to be treated, taking turns and sharing etc. Our role play at home sets can help with the concept of sharing and taking care of other’s toys. Traditional board games such as snakes and ladders are a great way to encourage patience and turn taking.
  • Language such as “who’s turn is it now” and “thank you for waiting” can be really helpful.
  • Make sure you have someone to talk with who can empathise and support you. Acknowledge that it is a massive change for you as well as your little one.

Help your child:

  • Help your child to be as independent as possible. Try practising dressing themselves, toileting, putting on shoes or getting ready for PE and eating independently (even opening items in a lunchbox can be tricky)
  • Get your little one into an established good bedtime and morning routine to reduce anxiety at the time.
  • Explain to your child who will take them to school on their first day and how the handover to school will happen.
  • Share your own experiences of your first day at school. Children love to hear a story they can relate to that involves you.
  • Plan a simple treat for the end of the school day. (Maybe/hopefully a visit to Curious Kids town, a role play hire box or just a special tea)
  • Walk or drive past the school when out and about. Practice the journey before the big day.

Practice Social Skills

Learning in a classroom is a social activity. Children learn by playing with and alongside their peers. They will make better progress if they are happy mixing with other children and adults. You can encourage this by:

  • Organising play dates where it is safe to do so and within current government guidelines. Knowing other children in the class before school begins can make it all that little bit less scary. Virtual meet ups can be really useful too.
  • Practise greetings with dolls etc.
  • Practise conversations. Taking turns at talking and listening to each other.
  • Our role play at home sets are a perfect opportunity to practice social skills during play with a number of different themed boxes.

Help your child learn to concentrate:

Being able to concentrate for short bursts is likely to be more of a challenge if your child has been off nursery or pre school due to the pandemic. Our role play boxes can be really useful in encouraging extended play between you and your little one and building that concentration or simply teaching your child to follow simple instructions.

Make a start on early literacy and numeracy skills

  • Help them recognise their name
  • Share stories. Reading to your child improves their vocabulary and listening skills and acting out stories is a great way to improve communication.
  • Practise fine motor skills, building hand strength, fine motor skills and hand eye coordination helps prepare your child for writing.
  • Introduce them to numbers, number recognition and counting.

I know and understand it is a sad and anxious time but it is also such an exciting time. The beginning of so many formative memories. School days that will help shape who your little one will ultimately become and friendships (big and small) that could just last a lifetime.