Because I was going to be home with our baby boy anyway, we decided not to send our twin girls to Kindergarten. So in the months leading up to their first day of school we did our best to get them prepared for the journey of learning that lay ahead of them. But in a way, it was me who needed the training!
I mean, we are expected to provide them with a packed lunch… everyday!
In terms of getting the little ones ready, though, I think that it could be broken down into a few areas. Emotional; Academic; Technical. Now those are pretty grown up words for these tiny creatures, but let’s see how we go breaking it down.
Emotionally, well obviously, if they are going to be attending a traditional school, they are going to need to be able to handle being separated from you for a day. (I like the story of my son’s friend. Their teacher saw fit to explain to them on their first day that school wasn’t just for today, but for the next 12 years of their life. Later she found him quietly sobbing and when she gently questioned him about why he was upset he said “Oh Miss D, I don’t think that I can wait 12 whole years to see my mum again!”)
And while Kindy and Daycare can be great for some families to gain this skill, they aren’t necessities. MOPS, days with grandparents or friends, and Sunday School are just some of the other avenues for training your kids to have faith that every time mum goes away she comes back.
Tiredness also plays a key in a child’s ability to cope with emotions and pressure, so if your kids are used to having a sleep during the daytime it is an idea to try giving them a day here and there with no sleep so that they can build some resilience and become used to going a full day with no sleep.
Academically, personally I believe that we can be a bit guided by our kids. My girls were just dying to be able to read, so with no teaching experience myself, I was surprised to see that they lapped up any chance they were given to learn anything about reading and writing. My son, however, had barely mastered the first two letters of his name by the end of Kindy.
And by doing the most simple things with our kids we are, or course, teaching them more than we dare to imagine. No doubt you’ve been astounded by what your toddler has quoted from you verbatim (often at an inappropriate moment and volume).
If your little one wants to sing the alphabet non stop, then do it for as long as you can stay sane; if they like colouring in, then hear their future teacher thanking you for allowing them to build good handwriting muscles; if they want to dig in the dirt to find grubs, then know that you are engaging their little scientific minds. Your little one will learn whatever they are able in any area they are interested.
Now, my final category of Technical, might sound way too… technical, but what I’m talking about are zips. And velcro, and hanging things on hooks by themselves. In short, a major part of a kid’s day (from their viewpoint) is spent in the playground. Imagine the frustration if on your first day in a totally new environment you found yourself starving, tired, surrounded by strangers, being asked to sit on the ground to eat your lunch… and you couldn’t get your new flash lunch box open. Too many tears have been cried over plastic boxes with tight latches. Some school lunch practice runs at home will give your little one a confidence on that first day and lunch in that strange place becomes a reminder of their loving home. It’s a good idea too, to give your children a run down on your lunchbox packing strategy so that they have a fair idea each day of what you might have intended for them to eat for morning tea and lunch.
We are entering our fourth term of the first year of school with our “baby” and he said to me the other day out of the blue “Mum, I think that I’m settling in to big school now.” I was caught off guard. He has two big sisters to boss him around at school, he knows the drill better than they did before they started there, he has the most beautiful teacher a mum could hope for, and he has shown only signs of slotting right into the system. But in his little mind it’s only now, eight months down the track, that he is starting to belong. How serious their view of school is. And how long is the journey ahead!
MOPS Blog Content Manager