GeneralProgram and Practice

Starting school: what will you share with families?

Kristy O'Toole
October 18, 2021

Here is where I would begin:

As you and your child begin to consider starting school you may well feel a wave of emotions. Completely expected, it is a big change. Of course, you want these emotions to be positive but remember it is okay if you have some worries or concerns. Starting school is a significant milestone in a child’s life, as a parent or carer you want the transition to be a joyful experience.

If you have started searching the web or talking to your friends and colleagues, you will have no doubt been provided with a multitude of information that is intended to help you and support your child.

Just like when you buy or build a house, there are many things to consider. Getting the foundations right is important, what do they say in real estate…location, location, location. You don’t need to look too far this time, the perfect location is right where you are, it’s your home.

Before you do anything, is it important to make sure you have a positive approach to the transition. Positive relationships are the key to successful outcomes.

There are five key areas that I believe are important, each hold significant value and is worthy of further exploration. They are:

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Preparation
  • Development
  • Transition
  • Child Safety

The first thing you can do is take a visit to the optometrist, to ensure the new school student has clear vision and attend a free hearing test (most councils provide these). Check all immunisations are up to date and that your child’s general health is excellent. Now is a great time to have a review of the nutritional value of what’s on the menu most days. Your child’s health and wellbeing will impact on their capability to actively engage in the school curriculum.

Develop your child’s independence. Provide opportunities for your child to be confident and capable when it comes to looking after themselves.

Participate in all the opportunities provided by the school to get to know the environment and teachers. In 2020, this might mean watching a virtual tour on the website or going for walks around the perimeter of the school grounds.

Routines are very important; they help children feel safe and allow for them to be able to make predictions. Planning the day together helps children feel empowered and valued.

Make a time with your child’s educators or teachers to have a conversation about their development and create some shared goals that will support your child in the transition to school. Recognising their name and attempting to write letters and numbers might be one of these goals but it is just as important, maybe more important, to have a goal that promotes independence skills, self-confidence and develops self-esteem. Being able to make new friends is key to a happy transition.

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