Getting Ready for School
You might think that I am a lunatic uber mum for banging on about this getting ready for school malarkey… But my little girls are my last babies and the last ones to head off into school and they seem so little to me I want to give them the best start possible. Also if I am honest when my boys started school I was too busy trying to survive having four very young children and so I was very slack on the whole thing… They were lucky they had uniform!!
Getting ready for school is also not just about them being ready anyway it is about me being ready too. Sure this is my third time sending my littles off to start school, but does it get any easier? Emotionally, for me, in many ways it does as I know they will be fine. It is no longer the unknown and it isn’t even unknown for them as they have been going to that school almost everyday for almost all their lives. However, I am a bit freaked out and sad actually as they are my last children to go to school. Once September comes this part of my life will be over. It has been such a tough few years in many ways, but I am genuinely a bit heart broken that it is almost over. Honestly I am properly nuts. They are only going to school not leaving home. Imagine what I will be like then… That is a whole other post though…
Back to them… I am doing a good bit of transition stuff with my girls predominantly as one of them has a speech delay and will likely need some extra help even once she starts school. So I am trying to help them with preparing for school. It isn’t like a work camp here or anything though. We are just doing fun activities that help to get them ready by having the necessary practical skills so that they are prepared for starting school.
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If you want to hear what other mummies suggest in order to prepare your child for school then don’t miss this post:
What I am doing differently this time when getting school ready?
If you are a regular reader you will know that one of my son’s has found learning to read really tough. He is getting much better now and is pretty much on track, but he still totally hates it! As my daughter has a speech delay we may find ourselves in the same position again. So this time round I am getting school ready by starting a little bit of phonics and reading.
Instill a love of books and starting to learn to read
They are just four years old. They can’t read and I wouldn’t expect them to be able to, but I do want them to be interested in books and excited about stories. So what we are doing is using the Julia Donaldson Oxford Reading Tree books to introduce the concept of sounding words out and recognising phonics. I am reading the books to them and sounding out some of the words. I want them to be familiar with phonics and be able to recognise some of the basic phonic sounds. There is no pressure within these reading sessions and we also still read their other favourites. I want this to be fun so it is just about trying and me asking questions to help get them thinking about sounds and words.
We have lots of books in the house and the children have a bedtime story altogether each evening. Although my 8 year old sometimes ducks out of that now to read his own books. It isn’t all about learning to read, but about learning to love books. I have always loved reading and still know find it to be a fabulous way to de-stress.
I am also asking the girls questions about the books we are reading. For example getting them to describe what is happening on each page or asking them what they think the book is about when looking at the front cover. This is also great for my little girl’s speech development; two birds with one stone.
Whilst we are reading I encourage them to point out any phonics that they know and we practice doing the actions for each phonic sound. For example pretending to bounce a ball for ‘b’. They have started phonics at nursery so I just take the lead from them. I don’t want to be super pushy so we just stick to the sounds they mention and have learnt at nursery.
These are the set of books that we have which I have used with my children to start the phonics journey. It is quite a big initial outlay we have had loads of use out of it. My 6 year old can still use the highest stages of book. If you have more than one child this is definitely worth a purchase to supplement school reading and help with preparing for school.
This time round I am also helping my children get ready for school by practicing pen control. I am not trying to teach them to write by the time they are starting for school, but I do think it would help them to be prepared for reception if they were able to control a pen. Ultimately I would love for them to be able to write their names as part of this getting ready for school process, but we only do what they find fun. This isn’t something I make them do it is just as and when they want to do drawing I will then ask ‘do you want to try writing letters?’ They are keen to learn generally so they want to give it a go, but if they get frustrated we stop.
To help we have some fab books which the girls can practice tracing letters and drawings. We were sent this writing workbook which we have found really useful for helping the girls to start forming letters.
They have some wipe clean ones as well which are great. Be warned the marker doesn’t always come off clothes so I would recommend keeping the wipe clean ones for once your little ones have got some form of pen control so it won’t go everywhere!
Talking about starting school
We are also using a book which is specifically about a child’s first day at school ‘Whizzy Willows First Day at School’ to help to spark discussion about starting school and what might happen when they go. I think it is really important to talk about school before children are starting school for the first time. This book has helped us with this. I must admit I am a bit like a stuck record on the starting school front. I often relate things that we are doing in everyday life to what they will be doing once they start school.
As well as talking about school in general we talk about the teacher’s names and activities that happen at school like assembly. The fact that they have older siblings really helps as they hear the day to day chats. I also ask their brothers to tell them about different aspects of school life. I am hoping all of this will get them ready for school and feeling really comfortable.
Remembering they are unique
This is something I always need to remember especially with the twins. The tendency can be for me to just treat them both the same, but this isn’t fair to them as they are at different development stages. I expected my second son to learn as quickly and as easily as my eldest and that just wasn’t fair.
For a start he had baby twins hogging the limelight when he was a preschooler. He was therefore not getting as much support from me when preparing for school. I think this showed in the speed at which he picked up reading. I have really been focusing on this with him in recent months and the change has been amazing. This just served to remind me that I must make sure that I balance the needs of everyone…. Sometimes that is easier said than done so all I can do is try.
I know I have to help my children prepare for school in a way that suits each child and not just as a collective. For my twins this means that I need to focus on language and understanding with one of the girls. Whilst for the other it is more about ensuring she is emotionally ready. She is developed beyond her age with her speech and understanding, but she struggles with being away from me. I need to ensure she knows that I will be back at the end of the day. For her we are spending more time talking about school and how she feels about it. We are building up her excitement about going to school in the hopes of increasing her confidence.
Preparing as a parent
If you are not familiar with phonics then I would totally recommend heading over to you tube and checking out Mr Thorne does Phonics before your little ones start school. I had no idea of phonics before my eldest started school. I found it tricky sometimes to help him as I just didn’t know the sounds. Once he started putting words together himself I was even less useful. I wasn’t breaking the words down in the same way that they do at school. So if there was one thing I would recommend doing it is that…. Check out the phonic sounds so you know what they are talking about.
Apart from that I think it is about preparing yourself emotionally especially if it is your first child or last child heading off to school. For me this will a huge change in my life. I have had babies at home since 2011 and now in September my little girls will start school. I will be on my own everyday. It will be weird so I am preparing by coming with a bit of an action plan. I have so much stuff I have been meaning to do in the house, but haven’t had time. Now I need to get it done!
So you see I am still learning how to handle the transition into starting school. I want to continue learning as a parent so I can help my children to learn and develop. Oh and so I can do it better 😉 Starting school is a big deal not just for kids, but for their parents too. We all need to prepare for starting school in our own way. I would love to hear how you are approaching it so do share your thoughts in the comments.