School, for some children, could be the first experience of social interaction outside of their family. Not all children experience Early Childhood experiences where children develop, build and learn resilience and are engaged in hands-on experiences that help guide their perceptions of themselves as learners and building on their sense of belonging. Through emotional development children build a sense of self. When children are not confident in their environment they tend to withdraw and not interact within the learning environment and/or their peers. This in turn could lead the child not feeling confident to explore and as a result not engage in effective learning. On the other hand, when children are able to build a positive sense of self they are able to confidently interact with others. They are able to ease into group scenarios, understand consequences of their actions and able to express their emotions effectively, fostering exploration, investigation and of course - learning. Self-help skills are vital to the development of an individual. It gives a child a sense of accomplishment when s/he is able to achieve his/her desired outcome, building on self-confidence but also allowing the child to be responsible for his/her health and wellbeing as well as fostering own learning interests. Building confidence There are things parents can do to help children feel confident and optimistic about starting school. You could talk with them about what school will be like. Borrow books from the library with positive stories about starting school. Maybe share some happy stories from your own school days. Parents can also help children to build confidence and optimism by encouraging a habit of positive thinking. You can start by asking your child to tell you about the good things that happen each day as this helps children to develop their cognitive, social, communication skills as well as their confidence. Getting ready To prepare children for school you could:
- Involve your child in preparing for school, eg. shopping for their uniform, school bag and lunch box.
- Make sure they can manage their lunchbox and school bag and encourage your child to help you pack them.
- Plan for healthy lunches, snacks and water to drink together and write out a shopping list.
- Help your child learn to dress themselves, and to use the toilet on their own
- Establish the bedtime and morning routine that they will have when they start school. It is very important that they get enough sleep and time to eat breakfast.
- Practice the route you will take when you walk, drive or ride to school to help with the flow of the morning.
- If possible, plan to take your child to school on the first day. Show them where you will pick them up at the end of the day. Make sure you are always on time. A few minutes can seem like a long time to a young child.
- Create a ‘countdown to school’ calendar.
- Weekend playdates with children who will also be attending the school will help your child make those initial friendships and to have familiar faces to look for on the first day.