This week we hear from Kathryn Baldrey-Chourio, Founder of Nana’s Manners.
Starting school is a milestone in every child’s life. Once you are through the application process and have your school place, the reality of the imminent changes can start to sink in. Whilst it is an incredibly exciting time, it is perfectly normal for most children (and parents) to have some anxiety in the run up to September.
Here’s a short list of tips, collected over my time teaching, that may help you in preparing for that big day.
- Buy their uniform early (with growing room so they don’t grow out of it by September!) Let them practise putting it on and taking it off – many children love this - my daughter wore her summer dress most of the August before she started in September! If you can help them become confident at changing into their PE kit when they start, you’ll be a favourite among the teachers. Practising getting them to take their shoes and socks on and off all by themself (indoor P.E.) will earn you an extra gold star!
- Have a look at the timetable of the school day so you are able to answer any questions your child may have. 9am till 3:30pm is a long time for a 4 year old. Whilst they’re not likely to be able to visualise that they have a snack at 10:30am, lunch at 12, they will understand that they have an activity, then a snack and a story, followed by a play outside, for example. Playtimes and snack/lunch times are the markers of most children’s days!
- Toilets – a firm favourite topic amongst kids. When your child starts school, checking they know where the toilets are can relieve a lot of anxiety. Many kids have a window of approximately 30 seconds from realising they need the toilet to really needing to go to the toilet – knowing which directions to go can make a big difference!
- School may be the first setting where your child will be expected to eat fairly independently. If they are going to have a packed lunch, check they are able to open any plastic containers you use to store their food - and close them again to avoid leaks! If they are going to eat a hot lunch, practice using a knife and fork so they are confident in cutting up their own food and able to eat independently.
- It’s not just your child who’s starting school. For many parents, this will be the first time they have been in that environment since their own school days. This can bring back a range of emotions, not all of them may be positive. Walking back into a classroom can bring back memories you’d forgotten you even had. Schools have changed enormously over the years and it can be important to remember that any negative memories you have will almost certainly be different to your own child’s experiences.
- It’s ok to feel that separation anxiety and worry about how your child will be when they’re away from you for the school day. Children are also commonly upset and clingy at the first few drop offs, but I promise you, once they are inside with others and getting on with the activities, they will be absolutely fine. I remember spending most of the morning upset on my son’s first day, knowing full well he was having a great time!
- Get to know a few of the other parents. This can be harder if you’re not always at the school gate, but many classes now have a WhatsApp group or something similar. It’s great to have a network of people to remind you it’s mufti day tomorrow and to be able to call on each other if you have an emergency at pick up time, etc.
Finally, remember to make sure you name everything if you want it to find its way home!
To celebrate the milestone of children starting school and beginning to eat lunch on their own, we have a fantastic safe eating bundle worth £43 to give away to help promote safe eating for children.
The prize includes an award winning cutlery set from Nana's Manners, which supports children to eat independently, a pack of Nana's Manners conversation cards, which promotes family mealtimes, our award winning Mini First Aid kit which is the ideal size for taking on your travels, and our new 'Sit, Chop, Chew' book which teaches children about the importance of safe eating practices.