parents

8 things you should do before your child starts school.

Goodstart Early Learning
Thanks to our brand partner, Goodstart Early Learning

Parents: Brace yourselves.

Speak to any parent of school-aged children, and you’ll soon discover that primary school isn’t like it used to be. Nor is the important year before ‘big’ school starts.

In the past, play-based learning meant riding bikes around the neighbourhood without a helmet. Today, it’s all about science experiments in the sandpit.

So to make sure your child hits the ground running once they get to primary school, there are certain things you should do in the year before they get there, while they are still in kindergarten (which is the term used in most Australian states).

Read on to find out the eight things you may need to know in the year before your child starts school.

1. Read to them every day.

At primary school kids start sounds, sights, words, number sequences and mathematics almost immediately. While they won’t be learning to read from day one, one of the best things you can do to get them ready is to read to them every single day – even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes.

At home, sound out words and point to them when reading books. Use lots of different words in your everyday conversations. Don’t be afraid to use big words; explain what they mean and get them to repeat the word back to you. This will help to expand their vocabulary.

how to get school ready
“At home, sound out words and point to them when reading books. Use lots of different words in your everyday conversations.” Image via iStock.

2. Teach them to dress themselves.

In your child’s early years, they are busy mastering and refining their fine motor skills. By around age three, children show great interest in dressing themselves, and while it can be tempting to do it for them, it’s important for their independence to be able to master these tasks themselves. By the time your child hits primary school, they not only need to be able to dress themselves, but look after their belongings, and pick up after themselves.

3. Ensure they’re ready.

For many working families, sending your little one to kindergarten is a great option. But if you are a stay-at-home mum and your soon-to-be school-aged child isn’t currently attending, it’s worth considering.

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It can be hugely beneficial in not only preparing them to start school with confidence, but also making the transition easier for the whole family.

Look for a centre like Goodstart, which has a kindergarten program that is developed in accordance with the Early Years Learning Framework. By enrolling them in an environment that is both nurturing and stimulating to their individual needs, you’re helping to foster their curiosity, creativity and desire to learn – that will last long after those first-day tears have dried.

how to get school ready
“It can be hugely beneficial in not only preparing them to start school with confidence, but also making the transition easier for the whole family.” Image via iStock.

4. Encourage self-regulation.

Is your child able to focus on a task, share and wait for their turn? While literacy and numeracy can be taught once they are in school, social and emotional maturity is a skill that is set in the foundations for learning.

To help expand your child’s attention span in the lead up to primary school, spend plenty of time with them doing quiet activities like puzzles, games, painting and drawing.

5. Learn with them.

You are your child’s first teacher, and taking an interest in your child’s education is one of the most important steps you can make for their future success. By no means do you have to read up on the school’s curriculum (no one has time for that) but do take note of what it is your child is learning in the kindergarten room. For example, in a play-based learning program, every child should have documented learning stories.

how to get school ready
“By no means do you have to read up on the school’s curriculum (no one has time for that) but do take note of what it is your child is learning in the kindergarten room.” Image via iStock.
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6. Teach them that it’s OK to make mistakes.

One thing you can do at home is to emphasise that it’s okay to make mistakes. One of the best ways we learn is to take risks, try new things and experiment. In life, every single one of us will make mistakes. Make sure your child understands that by challenging themselves and having a go, they master a skill and that is all part of the fun.

7. Practice writing.

By age five, some children will have mastered the crayon and some will be confident drawing shapes and letters. The key is to practice, practice, practice. Start with the letters and shapes in their name. The sense of pride your child will take from being able to write their own name is priceless.

how to get school ready
“By age five, some children will have mastered the crayon and some will be confident drawing shapes and letters. The key is to practice, practice, practice.” Image via iStock.

8. Help them make friends.

Arranging regular play dates with your children’s friends in the early years is an excellent opportunity for them to learn how to interact in social situations. But it’s just as important once they hit ‘big school’ too. Try to arrange a play date with mothers from your kindergarten who intend to send their kids to the same primary school. Your kindergarten may already do this as part of their school transition program.

How do you ensure your child is school ready?

Speaking of reading, here are some books your growing kids need to know about… 

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