With so many of our pre-schoolers starting to leave nursery in the coming weeks as they prepare to start school in September, we thought it would be helpful to share some guidance on how to make this transition as smooth as possible for you and your child.
Starting school is an exciting milestone, not just for every child, but for parents too. However, often with this change comes concerns, from both children and parents, about the transition from nursery to school. The coronavirus pandemic may have further increased these concerns as children aren’t able to enjoy their last summer months at their childcare setting as normal or have the usual transition visits to their new school.
We have been working hard to share activity ideas and school readiness ideas to ensure both parents and children feel prepared and ready to start school in September. Whilst we have had the chance to see most of the children in nursery before the start of the school term, we wanted to share some ideas and suggestions to further support your child for the transition to school.
- Talk to your child about starting school: How are they feeling? What are they most excited about? Are they concerned about anything? Perhaps share some of your experiences of going to school. What were your favourite things? If you have any old photos of your school, show them to your child. If you have any books at home about starting school (e.g. Starting School by Allan and Janet Ahlberg) read these together and discuss them as you go along. What do you think about this? How does this make you feel? As you can’t physically visit the school at the moment, take a look at your child’s school website, social media or prospectus. If your child has an interest, look at different sections of the website to show them what opportunities they can look forward to. If you already have a child at the school, they may be familiar with the surroundings already. Perhaps they can speak to their younger sibling about their experiences so far or their favourite parts of school.
- Stay positive: Although things are a little different at the moment, this doesn’t need to affect the way you talk about the transition from nursery to school with your children. Your children don’t need to know that things aren’t happening the way they would do normally. So, keep calm and smile – it is natural to feel a little nervous – but remember, your child easily picks up on your emotions. Ensure that you are always positive when talking about school. If you are positive and enthusiastic, then your child will feel the same way too.
- Show children their new school uniform or where possible, order it and let your child try it on. Your child will enjoy trying on their smart new uniform. They can practise getting dressed and undressed; and you can teach them tricks for getting dressed, such as having the labels at the back, rolling up tights and holding cuffs to avoid sleeves riding up. If you already have their uniform, why not take a picture of them in it and stick it on the fridge so that they can start to picture themselves at school?
- Arrange a video call or play date: If you already know some other children from nursery that will be starting at the same school as your child, you could organise a video call play date or where possible, an in-person play date. Either way, children will enjoy seeing their friends and developing friendships with those that will be going to the same school as they are. It’s also helpful for parents to be able to chat to other parents about their own feelings and concerns, who may be feeling the same.
- Try to start getting into a routine. As I am sure we are all aware, getting out the house and getting anywhere on time with a small child in tow can be a challenge! It has been shown that children who arrive at school flustered struggle to settle for the rest of the day. So, try preparing new routines by getting up and going to bed at certain times, getting dressed and having meals a certain times. Children adapt quickly but having a familiar routine will support the transition process.
Don’t worry about doing each and every one of these. It is important, especially at the moment, just to remain calm and positive. We are here to support you in every way we can. It may also be worthwhile getting in touch with the school to see if they have any transition information to share.