The transition from preschool to big school is an important time for families and for many parents it marks the irrevocable end of the ‘playground years’. School readiness is a hot topic amongst the parents of pre-schoolers and while much of the groundwork is provided in high quality early childhood environments there is plenty that parents can do to support their children as they transition to big school.
Leading Australian early childhood provider Only About Children offers these six tips for parents seeking to help their children prepare for and successfully transition to the much more independent world of primary school. These simple strategies can be easily incorporated into your daily routine and will boost your child’s confidence as they embark on their big adventure:
1. Practice self-care skills, such as dressing, packing a bag and opening and closing a lunchbox and drink bottle and going to the bathroom. Encouraging your child to develop these skills will give them the self-confidence to know they are able to do it on their own.
2. Play number and letter games with your child to introduce the concept of counting and letter recognition. This can be easily incorporated in everyday activities such as counting the number of toys on the floor or pointing out words when reading aloud to them. Encourage your child’s listening and attention skills by reading stories to them, practice holding books, turning papers and singing nursery rhymes. Asking questions about the story or song can also support your child’s understanding of communication skills.
3. Help your child to develop gross motor skills, a fundamental base skill to many areas of learning. Using scissors or glue, drawing with a pencil, building with blocks or helping with the cooking can all help children develop gross motor skills.
4. Allow your children to become familiar with the school they are attending. This will help them feel more confident and comfortable on their first day. Visit their new school and attend any school orientations that are offered. This will allow you to meet other families in the school community.
5. Provide opportunities for your child to play with other children to develop their social skills. Children should be able to share, take turns during play and develop friendships. Teaching your child how to introduce themselves to other children and join in play with others will help them feel confident and build friendships at school.
6. Talk with your child’s current kindergarten/early childhood teacher to determine if any of the areas mentioned above require extra attention or practice. Early childhood providers can, if necessary, provide advice and information on how your child is tracking and how well they are likely to fare in the primary school environment. This is especially important if you are trying to decide whether to give your child another year of preschool or to send them to big school.