How to prepare your child for school

With the new school year nearly upon us, the transition to a new class can be daunting for both children and parents alike. Most children starting Grade 1 this year may have had the full experience of Kindergarten already, but that does not mean the transition will be straightforward.

Starting Grade 1 can be a point of pride and excitement for some, but for others there may be tears or anxiety. By working together, teachers and parents can make this potentially stressful transition easier by creating a positive experience into the exciting world of learning. Below are some simple steps to smooth the transition process and help your child excel at school when they first walk through their new classroom door.

Before School

  • Visit the school: Before the first day of school, visiting the school with your child can ease their uncertainty. They can become familiar with the route to school, their new learning environment and potentially meet their new teacher and classroom.
  • Setting a routine for your child: Before school starts, begin a bedtime and morning routine. The National Sleep Foundation stated that “poor or inadequate sleep can impact their ability to learn at school.” Children aged 6 to 13 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep. Sleep is critical to the development and growth of young children. Maintaining this consistent schedule gives children a sense of security and self-discipline.
  • Talk about their feelings: Talk to your child about how they are feeling. If your child is anxious, reassure them that this is normal and other children are probably feeling the same way.
  • Communicate with the class teacher: Ask for the teacher’s email address. Let the teacher know you want to help your child learn. If you feel uncomfortable speaking English, don’t let a language barrier stop you. There will be someone at the school who can facilitate these discussions. If you believe your child is struggling at any point during the school year, let the class teacher know. It is likely that they have dealt with similar issues before and can offer some helpful advice.
  • Join taster sessions or holiday camps: Sending your child for holiday camps is a great opportunity for them to gain independence by spending time away from home. This summer, ISSP is running 2-week, 3-week and 4-week multi-activity camps, which will include outdoor field trips and exciting cooking, dance, science, math and English lessons (June 13 – July 8). ISSP also hosts free playgroups for children 6 months to 4 years old every Thursday morning to experience play-based learning in a school environment.

When parents take an interest in their child’s education, children notice and the impact can be instrumental in the child’s own attitudes and motivations to learn. The National Literacy Trust has recently reviewed the significance of parental involvement at home. It confirms that “learning at home is a powerful force for academic success… and can overcome other factors such as family background, social class and level of parental education.” As a parent, there are some simple, but effective, ways to promote learning at home.

Supporting Your Child’s Learning At Home

  • Encourage Independence: One of the most essential skills I encourage, as a teacher, is independence. This can start early at home by simply allowing your child to dress themselves, tie their own shoes, pack (and carry) their own bags. By helping children to be independent, you are promoting their problem solving skills, teaching responsibility and developing their self-esteem.
  • Read, Read, Read: As a teacher, I believe that instilling a pleasure for reading is one of the most important things you can do to help your child succeed in life. By making books an integral and daily part of their lives, you are boosting their academic potential. Reading activities at home has positive influences not only on reading achievement, but language comprehension and communication skills too. Moreover, statistics from the Literacy Company have shown that out-of-school reading for just 15 minutes a day can expose students to more than a million words in a year. Therefore, to help your child learn at home—read daily and visit the school library!
  • Develop Curiosity: From an early age, your child is learning critical language and communication skills. However, no matter your child’s age, developing curiosity is essential. Children constantly have “why” questions. If we are not sure of the answers, it is not a problem. Helping the children find those answers is all part of the fun!

It is fundamental that a great home learning environment is fun, enjoyable and relaxed for the child. Ultimately, it is parental involvement that has the greatest impact on children’s learning, with a range of positive outcomes from language growth to academic achievement. Any activity where your child can spend quality time with you can provide endless learning opportunities.

BIO: Hollie Slater is a Grade 1 teacher with a Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP).