HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD PREPARE FOR THEIR FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL

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As a parent, have you ever wondered whether feeding the ducks should play second fiddle to fluency in Mandarin? Or is your child’s ability to count peas on a plate more important than the peas actually being eaten. If this sounds familiar then you could be suffering from PPS – Pushy Parent Syndrome…

Being a Tiger Mummy (or Daddy) is no longer the social joke it once was, but is it really necessary in order to best prepare your child for school?

You might be surprised to learn that a child who starts school knowing their alphabet is not necessarily any better prepared than another with a confident command of the card game ‘snap’. Crucially, the key is not what they have already learnt, but whether they are ‘ready’ to learn.

Maple Walk Prep School, an independent day school for boys and girls aged 4-11 in north west London, has years of experience in teaching four-year-olds and the teachers know that the first day in Reception class can be fraught.

But before children embark on this epic first day parents can help them prepare. This may mean starting at the basics, as children will be expected to go to the toilet independently and to wash their hands. It may also seem obvious, but being able to dress and undress is a key step. Fiddly coat buttons and zips can be a challenge for small fingers and so the younger children start getting ready, the better.

A good tip is to get your child to practise putting on school uniform and praise them for being grown up enough to dress for ‘big’ school. This will also make the morning dash less stressful.

A good tip is to get your child to practise putting on school uniform and praise them for being grown up enough to dress for ‘big’ school. This will also make the morning dash less stressful

To encourage finger dexterity, which will help them negotiate clothes fastenings and ultimately to master a correct pencil grip, practice as many precise tasks as possible. Threading beads on string and sticking sequins on card can help.

Joining dots, tracing shapes, marking circles in the sand with a stick or squirting water from a bottle in a specific pattern will all develop hand-eye co-ordination.

Encourage your child to share with others and also to tidy up their possessions from an early age. And learning to put away their shoes neatly is as important as how they care for their toys.

Maple Walk Prep School, an independent day school for boys and girls aged 4-11 in north west London, has years of experience teaching four year olds

Maple Walk Prep School, an independent day school for boys and girls aged 4-11 in north west London, has years of experience teaching four year olds

In school, children will be expected to take turns and to listen. To get the best out of school, and for their own safety, they will also need to follow instructions and to understand rules. So discourage your children from interrupting other people’s conversations.

If your child has not been to nursery, or cared for by others for long periods, it is worth getting in some practise a few months before school starts, perhaps by asking a friend or relative to help out. Be upbeat about this experience, as young children can easily pick up on your anxiety.

Going to school is an exciting journey and while it can also be nerve-wracking, a little preparation can make the ride smoother for everyone.

To find out more about how Maple Walk school prepares children for life in the early years, see maplewalkschool.co.uk and arrange a visit