Worried about how your little one will go starting Prep next year?
They are still so small and it feels scary thinking about leaving them there all day for their first day of Prep….you want it to be the best start possible.
We have interviewed Prep teachers to get an inside scoop on their top six tips to help your child’s transition be as smooth as possible.
1 Get to know your child’s teacher
Your child’s prep teacher will be well aware that this can be an anxious time for both your child and yourself. Our Prep teachers say “Don’t be afraid to approach us to discuss any concerns.”
Many prep teachers will be at the school a couple of days before the first day. Chat to your child’s prep teacher at the end of this year to arrange a visit during this quiet time at the beginning of the year so your child can see their teacher again and become familiar with their classroom layout (as it is likely to change between their transition sessions and the first day of prep!). Also ask the teacher if your child is able to bring in a comfort item/transition object for their first days of prep.
2. Help your child to get to know ALL of their teachers
Prep is different to Kinder. Your child is going to need to get to know multiple teachers. Help your child do this by talking to the school about getting photos of each of their specialist teachers and any other staff they are likely to interact with regularly (for example the office staff, classroom assistants). Use these photos over the holidays to help the child familiarise themselves with each staff member, and to help them learn who they can go to if they need help at school. These photos could even be incorporated as part of a visual schedule to show your child what they have coming up at school each day.
3. Teach them to manage their lunch box
Your child is going to need to rapidly develop their level of independence over their first few weeks of school. Give them a head start by ensuring that they are able to confidently manage their lunch box. Discuss with the school what terms they use for their meal times (eg. fruit snack, recess, lunch, little play, big play…) and help your child to identify what they can eat at each time (ie. encourage them to save their sandwich for lunchtime!!). Make sure they can independently open and close their lunchbox, as well as each and every packet or container inside the lunchbox. Get them to re-pack their lunch box after they eat too! Also remember not to make their lunches too complicated. They will be keen to get out and run around so something that is quick and easy for them to eat is a good idea too.
Over the December/January holidays you may like to practice packing their lunchbox at the start of the day and asking them to get out their ‘fruit snack’, ‘lunch’ etc. over the course of the day. Try to time this with when they will be having these snacks at school to get them into the habit of eating at the same time as the school routine.
4. Get used to the School Uniform
For some children, it can take some adjusting to wearing a school uniform every day! Help them to acclimatise to this by wearing it over the December/January holidays. Start with having them wear it for short periods of time, and gradually increase the amount of time they wear it for. This also provides you with a great opportunity for them to practice getting it on and off (in particular those tricky school jumpers, or bomber jackets with studs or a zip!). Keep an eye out for any tactile sensitivities which makes them resistant to wearing the uniform (such as a stiff shirt or itchy jumper), as well as whether or not they seek additional oral tactile stimuli by chewing any parts of it. Also can they manage to use the toilet in their uniform by themselves.
This allows you to problem solve these difficulties before their first day!
5. Visit the school over the holidays
Most schools will allow you to visit the school ground over the school holidays. Make it fun by inviting some of your child’s new class mates to attend and have a picnic! This is a great opportunity to continue to foster the development of new friendships. Help them to get to know the layout of the school, including important places such as toilets, by making treasure hunts or other games whilst you explore the school.
6.Find out how the classroom resources are used
Each school organises their class resources, such as coloured pencils, glue sticks etc., differently. Check with your child’s prep teacher as to how these resources will be organised. Will they have a pencil case with their own resources, or will they be shared amongst their peers on their tables? Find out which resources you need to label with your child’s name, and which are to be shared. For any of your child’s personal items, make sure they are labelled clearly and are easily identifiable by your child. Explain to your child that some things will be “shared” and what this means so they are prepared for it when they get to school.
And don’t forget, if you are interested in registering your child for our “Give your child a head start to Prep” Program in January 2017 please contact us on 03 5975 9197 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our groups run in the week before school starts because over the years we have learnt that many of our kids forget what they learn at their school transition sessions over the long holiday break. We have also found it is a really great boost to their confidence and reduces a lot of the anxiety by having these practice sessions just before they actually do start school. We have also been able to problem solve for families with kids who are anxious about ways to make separating from a parent easier.
We have already had many families register their interest, and places are limited to ensure that the needs of each participate are met during their participation of the group.