So, your baby’s off to school in September! It hardly seems possible… where has the time gone? (Though, when we look back, the old adage that the years are short but the days can be loooooong certainly rings true.) There may be nerves. There may be high emotions. There may be blind panic. Some of these may even be coming from your kid. Here are a few things you can do over the summer to ease them – and you – into this brave new world.
Buy the uniform
- If yours – like Candice’s son – grows like a weed, don’t do this in July for obvious reasons. But do give yourself enough time to practice putting it on. They will be excited and proud to wear it. (You will, probably, have a little cry. It’s ok Mama, we totally get it.) However, excitement and pride will not get them into the damn thing. Practice getting dressed as many times as possible. (If this were a movie, we’d cut to a motivational montage right now of tiny shorts and dresses being wriggled on to a banging 80s soundtrack while mum holds a huge old-fashioned stopwatch and gives elaborate thumbs ups.) This is not only a sanity saver for school run mornings, but will also give them confidence if they have to change for sports at school.
- Think about practicalities. Sure, the summer dress is completely adorable – but they will only wear it for at most a month, and they’re unlikely to fit into it come May next year, so decide whether it’s worth the investment. Think about the virtues of zip vs buttons. Zips are easier to do up, but if your daughter delights in whizzing it down and flashing her tummy, buttons might be preferable! Buy in person rather than online if you can. We’ve discovered that they make some of these items out of bizarrely stiff and unstretchy material for no apparent reason so it’s good to check out the material yourself.
- Don’t forget the shoes, and practice taking them on and off, and wear them in a little if you can. We like practical shoes for girls that will keep them warm in the coming winter and are good for running around, and are pleased to see that these are more readily available now.
Talk, read, watch and play
- The more prepared they can be for school, the easier they will find it to settle. Slightly older friends and siblings are a huge advantage here, but you can also talk, play games and read books about the school experience at home. Starting School by legendary team Janet and Allan Ahlberg is lovely and Lucy & Tom at School by Shirley Hughes is another much-loved classic.
- There are some great TV shows that can help kids prepare for starting school. Even though we’ll hear that theme-tune in our dreams forever – why do kids love repetition so? – ours loved watching Topsy and Tim start school and learned lots from them.
- Play schools together! This is such a fun way to get them excited. Remember to let them be the teacher sometimes – although we still get such a kick from writing on a blackboard, despite the fact most schools won’t have anything so – um – old-school!
- For both of us, starting school has been the biggest milestone in our kids’ lives – and, if we’re honest, a huge adjustment in ours too. So we designed our School Starter Toolkit to help prepare our little ones for the learning they’ll be doing, but also to help foster the social and emotional skills that will help them feel at home in the classroom. The idea is to cuddle up together and chat about a handful of the brightly coloured, cutely designed cards – let them choose the ones that appeal – to introduce them gently to concepts like phonics, storytelling, numeracy and something emotional/social.
May your summer be full of lollies and laughter, and settling at school a breeze – for both of you!