Well it’s official…in just a few days time my biggest boy is starting school. Tuesday marks the start of a brand new chapter in his life and it all seems a little surreal, to be honest, i can’t help but feel like it’s his first step towards independence. But anyway, the tense wait is over…we know the school, the class and the teacher. We’ve even had the induction afternoons, and Riley absolutely loves his new school and his little classmates (most of whom are existing preschool buds).
It may look like we’ve spent the last six weeks doing nothing but enjoy the summer sun and make some amazing memories, but behind the scenes, we’ve also spent a lot of time preparing Riley for starting school. Myself too actually (as silly as that may sound). I still don’t feel ready to be a school mum and one of my biggest concerns has been that i won’t be organised enough and that the school morning routine will descend into utter chaos.
So, for the last couple of weeks, I have been establishing a daily routine that includes all the important skills Riley is going to need. I have been using these Visual Timetable Cards of Getting Ready for School from Twinkl to practice the morning routine together – getting dressed, having breakfast, brushing teeth, picking up bookbag etc. Riley is a visual learner so I think using these cards has really helped him to learn and remember what he needs to do (and in what order) every morning. I’ve laminated the cards and stuck them on the boys’ easel for both of them to look at and become familiar with. When a task/activity is completed, they remove the card from the easel and pop it into a little envelope.
I’ve also been giving him Riley plenty of opportunities to practice dressing and undressing, and I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible by choosing items of uniform that are simple like elasticated trousers and velcro-fastening shoes. My plan is to have uniform out and ready the night before so that there is no rushing around or hunting for lost items the following morning. We all know that socks and shoes, in particular, have a habit of vanishing into thin air!
To help prepare Riley for the school day, we have been reading a wonderful book called Miffy At School.
The book takes Miffy and her friends through all aspects of their first day at school from the moment they leave the house in the morning until the school day ends. Activities include Miffy walking to school, the teacher greeting them, sitting down in their classroom, drawing pictures, building towers, playtime and the bell ringing at home time.
The book pretty much covers what I would describe as a typical day at school for most children, so it will put them at ease if they are feeling nervous or anxious about starting school. We have been reading Miffy at School every morning at breakfast time for the past month – it’s definitely helped Riley to become more familiar with the idea of school and routine and the kinds of things he may be asked to do. The use of charming illustrations, bright colours and simple text captured his attention right from the start and this sweet story has made learning about school a lot more fun.
We’ve incorporated a mid-morning snack into our day and i always remind Riley to go to the toilet: practicing the whole procedure, including flushing the toilet, washing his hands with soap and drying them thoroughly.
Believe it or not, he’s actually been asking me for homework, so i’ve been encouraging him in fun activities, but not forcing him to continue once he’s lost interest. We’ve been drawing, painting and using some pencil control worksheets from Twinkl to help with improving his pencil control, we’ve practiced writing his name and i’ve used everyday tasks such as sorting cutlery or climbing steps to learn about shape and size, matching and measuring as well as numbers and counting.
Areas of learning we were specifically asked to focus on with him were improving his concentration and listening skills, so i’ve spent time engaging him with short, structured activities, such as doing a jigsaw puzzle or colouring and we’ve also been playing games where he has to follow instructions, share and take turns.
He’s also been spending about 30minutes a day on his Leapfrog LeapStart, which is a fantastic learning tool and you can read our full review of it here. We’ve been using the ‘First Day at School’ activity book, for obvious reasons, which takes Riley on a classroom adventure to get ready for the first day of school, exploring the day from start to finish. It teaches 15 school readiness and critical thinking skills: familiarity with the classroom, school routines, days and seasons, cooperation and more.
It probably sounds like i’ve gone completely over the top, but Riley likes structure and routine. He doesn’t like change, so as his mama, i feel like i owe it to him to do everything i can to fully prepare him for the transition from preschool to school and make the process as easy as possible for him. I just want him to feel confident and ready and have the best possible start at school.
And despite all of this preparation, it still hasn’t sunk in that he is really starting school this week. I just don’t know where the last four years have gone.
I feel a little sad…but also so excited for this new chapter. I just know he is going to thrive at school and i cannot wait for that!