Thursday, 17 January 2013

Getting Ready For School:: 11 Tips

Tiny is starting school this year. My little Tiny starts Kindergarten in just over a week. 

Oh how it hits me with a mixture of feelings. I know I am going to feel the eight bar blues when my little girl walks through the gates, and even moreso when I have to turn and leave her there. Unbearable. I know. I'm a complete sap. 

But joyfully, Tiny is so beside-herself-happy that she's been wearing her school uniform most days - and embraces anything to do with starting school. Sneaker shopping? Yes please! New lunchbox? Awesome. It's pretty darn endearing to see her so excited. 

I've been thinking about things I did to make the start of school transition for the Doctor a little easier. It's a big change going from the cloistered and loving environment of preschool, to the oversized playground of primary school. 

Below I've created a little list of things that helped us when the Doctor started school - maybe they might help you and your little people too?

  • Velcro. Velcro. Velcro. As much as I detest velcro, I learnt to embrace velcro. It saves the stress of learning to tie shoelaces. And - on a gross front, shoelaces - when in the bathrooms, can get wet with wee. No teacher - nor any child - wants to touch wee-sodden shoelaces. Plus, teachers tend not to want to tie shoelaces these days. Funny that. 

  • Wear in the lunchbox. We have those Tupperware lunch boxes - but the clips on them are quite stiff if they're brand new. As our preschool teacher once told us, when you're sitting in front of the TV, open and close that sucker to make it easier to open. And then get your child to see if they can open it. If they can't - job well done. If they can't - keep going. Teachers are scarce in the playground. If they can't open the lunchbox, there's a good chance they won't get any lunch.

  • Don't pack too much. There's something in us mums that means we turn into that crazy woman that thinks our child is going to starve at school. They're not. And they won't. Do not put too much food in your child's lunchbox - for two reasons. 
    • Generally there's an eat before play rule, but if you pack so much in that lunchbox, your kid is going to be sitting on the bench trying to wolf down that massive picnic you packed - before they can get a chance to play. Which means not only less downtime, it means less time being able to play with their new school mates. 
    • If you pack too much - chances are, it will also start to come home. In tact. And destined for the bin. Keep things simple - and it's a good idea to pack something you know they like. There's nothing like food for comfort.
  • Spare undies. Spare socks. If your little person has an accident at school - there's a good chance the school will have spare uniforms to wear (if you can pack a spare uniform, sweet. If not, don't stress.). However - who wants to wear random communal undies? No one. And if you wet your pants, there's a high probability that your socks will be wet too. Pack some spares for the first term at least.
  • Tissues. Call me crazy, but the toilets sometimes run out of toilet paper. To you, your little Kindergarten kid might be big and independent, but at school - it's daunting - and who do you call out to when there's no toilet paper? I packed tissues into the Doctor's pockets just-in-case. Trust me. 
  • Send a ball. Or a skipping rope. In the first few weeks, it's tough. Your child might not know anyone, it's hard to remember names - and the playground is biiiiig. It's hard to find your friends, so if you pack a ball - like a rubber handball - they have something to play with, and chances are, other kids will want in on the sweet handball action (or skipping rope). 
  • Don't ask about the day as soon as you get in the car. Don't even think about it. Those little Kindy kids are so zonked, so, so zonked, and it's hard to remember what you did during that buzz of the first day, week, month. I know you want to know what happened, but be patient, let them have some downtime, then ask specific questions - like "Did you go to the library today?"
  • No extra-curricular. Like I said, those little people are so worn out by the new routine, new faces, new names - by the time they get to 3pm - they are 100% exhausted. Minimise stress and simplify things by cutting down on extra-curricular activities. It will make everyone's life easier. 
  • Bathrooms: Ensure your small knows where the bathrooms are. Very important! Show them which toilet to use, what sign to look for. And also prep them on what to do if the toilet cubicle is in a state of disarray (check the other cubicles if they are free, particularly if you have a girl and there's wee on the seat). 
  • Drop Off and Pick Up: Try to make sure you're not too rushed in the morning so you have a few minutes in the playground before bell time, and make sure you tell your child where you will meet them. Kindergarten teachers generally have to wait with their class until each of the parents turn up, so try and arrive before the bell rings to keep everyone happy and stress free. 
  • Pack Your Own Tissues: You might just need them.
PS - The 'Starting School' book by Janet and John Ahlberg is pretty good. Reading about school if helpful too, your local library might have some titles that are worth checking out.

Have you got any getting ready for school tips to share? 


My Bearded Pigeon said...

Lovely list Lexi!
I hopeTiny goes well!
I think when asking about school it's good to ask specific questions like: who did you play with? Or what games did you play at lunch time?
Also if possibly volunteering in the classroom is great- I did it last year and will do so again - lucky to work p/t so I can - I found it helped me to get to know the children in her class and h teacher, when problems arose I felt more comfortable approaching the teacher.
I cried for the whole day!! Now that's being a sook!! (I like to blame the fct that I was pregnant and didn't know yet)


Sally Morrigan said...

Rubes is starting NEXT YEAR and I am already trying to prepare (myself, mostly - she is an old hat at daycare and preschool and will thrive). THIS IS UBER HELPFUL and you win all the awards today.

Steph Bond-Hutkin said...

You are awesome. I have thought about none of the above, so I guess I'm one step closer to being ready. 5th of Feb for us!

Angie@TheLittleMumma said...

My kiddo is starting school in a few short weeks and I thought I was ready. Then I read this list and realise, HOLY SHITBALLS, I have not even considered public toilet emergencies! I will now spend the next few weeks talking through possible worst case scenarios and how best to handle them.

Thank you! xx

Megan.K. said...

This list is so good, Lexi.
I made it through Melli starting school last year (sobs!) but I can't bear the thought of my baby going in just two years... Pass me those tissues!

I really like your idea of packing a ball or skipping rope - anything that will help them get through those play times if they feel shy.

And I concur re: extra curricular classes. Give the little ones a break!

Big girl Tiny!! How exciting for her, she is going to love school. Big hugs to you xxx

Milina@Little Red Vikings said...

Geez Lexi, my heart is palpitating reading all this. Thanks for the heads up, and the reminder that our children are about to embark on something Massive! tissues are on the list, along with some nit shampoo, to be on the ready, just in case.

Denwise aka Denyse Whelan said...

Gorgeous ! Couldn't have written a better post! Well done & I so wish my grandson didn't have shoes with laces now! Thanks & I will tell readers about this post too! Denyse