Helping your children transition from summer fun to a structured school day is not just about buying the correct school supplies and school wardrobe. To make sure they feel energized, ready to do their best, and ready to take on new challenges – academically, socially or emotionally – there are some practical things you can do to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Have a chat
Start by asking the right questions and listening carefully to your child’s concerns or fears about starting or returning to school. Talk with them about what their expectations are for the year ahead, what they’re looking forward to the most, and what they’re not looking forward to. Avoid questions that will result in simple yes or no answers. Ask them who their best friends are, who they like to hang out with and why. Are there any kids they don’t like spending time with? Who are their favourite teachers and why? Are there any teachers they don’t like and why? What activities at school do they like the most?
Tour the school
Drive your kids to the school to walk around the campus and get familiar with the environment before they start. Ask the school if you can look at their classroom, meet their teachers, and show them where the bathrooms, water fountains, lunch facilities and playgrounds are. If you can’t go inside, focus on the school route and outdoor activity areas.
Play learning games
Early childhood educators suggest that the best way to prepare a child for literacy is to help them build strong oral and language skills. Give them plenty of opportunities to talk with you, tell you stories, read aloud and learn new vocabulary. Help them develop a love for storytelling. Ask them to explain to you why they like a particular story or animal or game. Correct their grammar and give them the language to discuss things they find hard to explain.
Then focus on games you can play with learning agendas. Focus on counting, geography, color matching. Everyday tasks, like setting the table and spotting cars can suddenly become learning tools.
Practice fine motor skills
Help your child confidently tie their shoes, unbutton their pants, use the toilet independently, wash their hands, open and close their school bag and lunch box, recognize their own school bag and possessions, hold a drink bottle correctly and pick up and arrange puzzles and toys. Giving them this confidence will help them avoid any embarrassment and make sure they feel physically independent.
Enforce good behavior & social skills
The ability to make and keep friends is one of the most important determinants to a successful transition to school. Boost maturity by helping him or her express emotions and communicate needs. If they become frustrated with workbook tasks or when playing with friends, give them the language to express themselves. Social independence will happen when they feel good about themselves. Make sure they know their family care for them, that they know who they are, and that they feel confident and like themselves. Encourage independence by letting them find solutions to social problems themselves.
What are you doing to help your child transition from summer to back-to-school?