7 skills your child needs before starting school
Before you worry too much about the academic side of things, consider these basic practical skills.
We’re often so panicked about reading, writing and other academic skills in the months before kindergarten, we forget the practical side of things. Here’s some useful skills to work on before school starts.
They’ll need to be able to use the toilet independently
It is really helpful for children to be able to use the toilet independently by the time they start school. Practice using public toilets and explain that at school there are separate toilets for girls and boys. Also help them learn practical skills like opening and shutting toilet locks, pulling up pants before leaving the toilet cubicle, and for boys, using a urinal. For more tips on establishing good hygiene routines at home, visit the Starting Blocks website.
They’ll need to be able to open their lunches and unwrap their snacks
Unlike at home, your little one can’t rely on you for helping to open their food. Get them to practice at home before sending them off to battle the cheese stick wrapper at school. Don’t forget water bottles, because they’ll need to be able to open and close them too.
Patience, patience, patience
At home it’s ‘me, me, me’ but at school it’s a different story. Teach them to take turns, make it into a game. Encourage sharing. Let them know that they won’t always be first and that’s OK.
Memorising emergency details
Now that they are a little more independent, it’s probably a good idea to teach them to memorise important details they might need in an emergency, like if they somehow get lost going to or from school. At the very least your child should know their address and their parents’ first names.
Get them ready to say goodbye
Separation anxiety is real, and it’s not something that you should spring on your child at the last minute. Before school starts you need to get them into a good ‘goodbye routine’. Repetition will help them get used to it and will reassure them that you are always going to come back.
Being responsible for their belongings
Step one is making their belongings as recognisable as possible, try adding fun matching stickers and labels that they’ll be able to spot. Then it’s a matter of practicing with them and drilling home the fact that they’ll need to hold onto their things, because if they lose them, they’re gone. You can start this at home, make them responsible for their hat, get them to put it away each time they’re done wearing it, and teach them to remember to put it on before they go out.
How to express themselves
The other kids aren’t always going to play nicely, and your child will need to have the confidence to say ‘no’ sometimes, as well as ‘I don’t like that’. It’s better to start that discussion before school starts so they can learn to use their words and not lash out in anger if there’s a disagreement.