Big day, big feelings. Find out how you can help your child get school-ready for their first year.
The first day of school is a big occasion, not just for your little one, but for mum and dad too. That initial step into ‘’big school’’ can be extremely nerve-racking but with the right approach, you can help make it, and the days after, enjoyable and memorable for the whole family.
In the first five years, 90% of brain development occurs1, making it an incredibly important time to lay the foundation for learning. When your little pioneer starts primary school, they benefit from years of good nutrition and stimulation in their earlier childhood. Starting primary school is when they can put everything they have learned into practice, and you should start to see rapid development as they are exposed to an entirely new environment. Nutrition and parental stimulation are as important as ever at this stage, and you can play a crucial role in supporting your child’s learning journey.
Read on to find out how you can help your child ace their first day at school and beyond.
The First Days: Overcoming Separation Anxiety
Clinging, crying and screaming. It’s a common scene when pre-schoolers enter school for the first time. For first-time mothers, don’t fret! Separation anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development2. Young children form a strong bond with their parents, so it’s natural that they will be reluctant to let go of feelings of familiarity, particularly when they enter an entirely new environment like a classroom.3
To help your child prepare for this big change, try taking your child to visit the school they will be attending before the first day of school. Let them choose their own school bag and water bottle to get them excited about school and set up a school-style play area at home to ease them into a school routine4.
5Did you know constant snacking prevents your child from recognising their own feelings of hunger and fullness? Help get your child into a healthy nutritional routine before they start school by following a few simple steps!
This will ensure your kids are eating familiar foods and follow healthy eating patterns!6
The First Weeks: Learning New Lessons
Your child’s first few weeks at school is a key period for their cognitive, motor, emotional and communication development to evolve. It will be an exciting time for the whole family as your child starts their education. The skills and subjects learned over the following months will set your child up for a lifetime of learning7.
Early math training provides big benefits. According to studies, it creates changes in a child’s brain, enabling children to become adept at wider problem-solving8. But did you know that you play a key role in your child’s attitude towards math? Psychology studies have shown that children are more receptive to learning when it’s associated with play, so you can help expose your child to math in fun ways9. Try introducing math into your little one’s daily routine like counting steps as you walk10.
The World Around Them
Science is another key subject to encourage your child’s natural curiosity. It teaches children about the world around them and nurtures skills like building patience, perseverance and communication with others11. You can take advantage of your child’s sense of wonder by introducing simple scientific experiments. For example, teach them how to use soap to power a toy boat or understand how a cool and dry day can result in static electricity12.
As easy as A, B, C
Reading is one of the building blocks for your child’s learning. Did you know that children who have strong linguistic intelligence when they are young tend to become better learners in their school years and beyond13? In fact, according to research conducted by National University of Singapore (NUS), children who learn more than two languages are more able to recall locations or find hidden toys, than those who just learn one language14. You can help build your child’s language skills in almost any situation. Take grocery shopping – describe to your child the different things they’ll see and use at the supermarket, like “aisle”, “cart”, “vegetable” and so on15. These will show your child that what they learn at school is connected to the things they do in daily life16.
Kids are natural innovators with a powerful imagination. Creativity helps them become more confident, develop social skills and learn better17. It’s not just essential for science and math, but also extends to artistic and musical expression18. Music can help with math and reading; dance boosts physical health and builds self-awareness; whilst acting enhances vocabulary19. All these require a great expense of energy so they require a nutrient-dense diet from fresh fruits and vegetables to whole grains and calcium, to maintain proper growth and brain development. Calcium is particularly important, as an adequate calcium intake promotes optimal bone density20, which is needed to help children mature into adulthood21.
22For the first time in your child’s life, they have a small amount of money to spend on whatever they want at school. Although most primary schools have stopped selling junk food – think potato chips and unhealthy drinks – your child still ends up buying the types of food you would rather they avoided. It’s crucial that they consume the right nutrition at home. Make sure they receive essential nutrients which will help to provide a nutrition supplement on top of their current food intake.
Helping Your Child Overcome Obstacles
What if my child is a slow learner? What if he’s not good at math or takes a longer time to read? One key source of poor performance is when a child experiences discouragement early on23. It’s important
that parents remember patience and positive reinforcement, instead of being ashamed if your little one is a bit behind24. Not every child learns at the same pace or in the same way. They may have trouble concentrating, difficulty retaining information or take a longer time to reach milestones like speech and vocabulary25. Try to avoid making comparisons with other children, constantly encourage and reassure your child, and help your child find fun in learning26.
Did you know that giving your child a good breakfast is vital for growing children27?
Research shows that a nutritional breakfast can beneficially impact the way your child grows and performs at school. Make sure you’re giving them the right nutrition to set them up for a day full of learning! There’s a reason why we like our kaya toast with a side of eggs – eggs help keep children fuller longer, sustain their energy and allow them to concentrate for a longer period of time28. You can also supplement your child’s diet with milk formula which contains important nutrients like DHA, vitamins, minerals and prebiotics to help support your child throughout his learning in school.
The First Year: Excitement, Energy and Enthusiasm!
Friendships form an important part of your child’s development at school, especially when children play together29. This helps develop your child’s social and emotional skills30 which are essential for future relationships. It is important to provide opportunities for your child to play with their new friends outside of their school environment. Setting up playdates is one way to help your child foster new friendships. Look out for key names your child often talks about and invite that favourite friend over for dinner31!
By the end of the first year of school, your child will now be well on their way to forming their own identity. Through independence, your child will develop their personality, learn the ways of life and grow up strong and ready to take on life challenges32.
Fueling Brains For School The more your child is learning at school, the more energy they need to support their progress. Hungry, growing minds need the right nutrition to fuel your little pioneer’s continuous learning and give them essential energy throughout the school day. DHA, found in milk formula and seafood sources like salmon and sardines33, is a primary component of brain tissues, and is key to effective communications between brain cells. It is an important building block for the brain and eye development. Together with other nutrients such as Vitamin B, Iron, Zinc and Iodine, these help support your child’s overall mental and physical development as they enter primary school. This combination of nutrients help shape and enhance your child’s cognitive, motor, emotional and communication skillsets – integral for your little pioneer’s overall continuous learning.
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