Dear Parents,

I understand your joy and frustrations because I am a parent too. I also know what it’s like to work in schools, pre-schools and deliver a range of workshops to your delightful offspring.

That is what prompted me to write this blog post, so let’s get down to business.

Teachers and practitioners want to support you in helping your child to achieve their full potential but they need your input and many of you do a sterling job. However there are a few things which would really make the difference prior to your child starting pre-school, nursery or reception in primary school.

Top Tips!

Read and digest the settling in booklet which most schools provide; it’s there for a reason.

If your child has special needs or you think there may be a learning difficulty (despite not having an official diagnosis) talk to the teacher/practitioner. It’s worth saying what works at home as you know your child best. By doing this, unnecessary demands will not be placed on your child and the appropriate support can be put in place earlier. Once your child starts school, it’s worth bearing in mind some children behave differently one to one than in a group. Therefore just because you as a parent have not witnessed a particular behaviour which the teacher describes, it doesn’t mean he/she is wrong. The blame game makes it more difficult to put support in place if you and the teacher are not singing from the same hymn sheet.

Eat meals with your child and role model how to use a knife and fork. Promote good manners by saying please and thank you. If they want something immediately, encourage them to wait (according to their age). Believe it or not, giving in to their every demand straight away does not help them settle in a school situation when there are up to thirty other children to consider.

Read Together
Chat to your child and read books regularly as this will encourage bonding, confidence, communication, language and literacy skills. A strong connection to key adults and the ability to ask for help is a positive indicator of resilience and success. Here’s a link to a short video HOW RESILIENCE IS BUILT

Toilet Etiquette
Toilet train your child; you may have one or two children to deal with but imagine your day if you had ten plus children who need nappies/don’t know about washing hands, while at the same time managing behaviour issues and implementing educational targets for the children. Also it’s a good opportunity to talk about staying safe e.g. who is allowed to touch our bodies and how germs are spread if we don’t wash hands. Songs are a simple yet effective way to help children remember important information, especially those with special needs.
Here’s a link to NSPCC PANTOSAURUS song and the WASH YOUR HANDS song

Independence Day
Encourage your child to put on their own coat, get dressed and where appropriate to become as independent as possible. The key is just enough support to enable and empower your child. Remember you may have just one coat to put on but a teacher has up to thirty.

Staying Safe
When it’s time to sit down encourage good sitting e.g. use any puppet and give it a name and say “Candy Floss or….. says we need to stay safe” use the puppet to encourage sitting in a spot and staying there, keeping hands and feet to ourselves and waiting our turn to speak.
I have been in a number of situations during circle time in which children think it’s okay to scramble over each other, use their hands and feet to snatch, touch and push their peers and constantly talk and interrupt. This usually happens for a combination of reasons – a lack of consistency either by the teachers or unrealistic expectations (sitting for too long) but also because some parents indulge their children by not putting boundaries in place at home.
Here’s a link to a short animation KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF and video; keeping our bodies safe

Encourage free time and independence; in other words don’t feel the need to fill every moment in your child’s day with planned activities. Allow them TIME to use their own imagination. We don’t want robots, we want free, critical thinkers of the future.

Before your child starts in an educational setting spend a little time imagining your daily routine with at least ten children and then consider if what you do as a parent would change. I would be surprised if it didn’t. The reason I say this is because after a few years working in a school, I said to myself ‘I wish I’d known this sooner as my son would have been better equipped to cope with school’. We all make mistakes and I am telling you mine, so you don’t have to.

Be kind to yourself
You are not perfect and neither am I, so stop beating yourself up. My son is grown up now but I used to worry so much about how he was going to turn out (he had a diagnosis of ADHD). When I see parents of young children now, I can tell most of them adore their children and yet panic or worry about things that really don’t matter much in the great scheme of things. I want to reach out and say “hey, your kids love you so much that just being there makes a powerful difference to their life chances, not how many activities you pack into a day and whether they are top of the class in maths etc.”. By the way my son turned out just fine!
#pshe #parents #startingschool #children #success #teachers