18 tips for first time school goers
Education

18 tips for first time school goers (and their parents!)

Sending your child off to school for the first time can be daunting and emotional for parents. Will they manage without you there to help them? Will the teacher be able to give them the attention they need? As you can’t be there beside them yourself, the next best thing is to prepare them for the challenges they might face so they can go it alone. These top tips for first time school goers will help.

18 tips for first time school goers

  1. An initial visit to the school is a good idea. Meet the principal and the teacher of infants. Show your child the school building, the cloakroom, the classroom, where the toilets are and the playground.
  2. Talk to your child about your own school days. If you haven’t got a funny memory of your first day at school, make one up!
  3. Emphasise the opportunities for making friends and for getting involved in new activities. However, don’t ‘hype up’ school life. Approach this talk with a calm attitude and treat it as normal.
  4. Introduce your child to another junior infant, if possible have her/ him around to play during the holidays. It is important for your child to see some familiar faces on the first day.
  5. Children should be able to put on and take off coats and hang them up, use the toilet and flush it properly, wash their hands and tidy up their crayons and colouring books. Play ‘pretend school’ with your child. Help to practice putting things in and out of the school bag and to open and close their lunchbox.
  6. Teach them to use a handkerchief or tissue, share toys and take turns.
  7. Label all of your children’s clothes and belongings clearly and help them to identify their own belongings.
  8. Your child should know his/her home address. You should also provide the school with the name and telephone number of a person to be contacted if you are not at home. Explain this arrangement to your child.
  9. Allow your children to do things independently.
  10. Encourage confidence by having them dress themselves. Allow time for this in the morning.
  11. Don’t criticise if things are not exactly to your liking, such as buttons that are not perfect or a tie that is slightly crooked.
  12. Praise their efforts at every opportunity.
  13. If children cannot tie laces and needs to change shoes, a velcro fastener will enable them to change quickly and independently.18 tips for first time school goers
  14. Ask yourself whether or not children can manage their clothes by themselves. Zips may be easier than buttons for example. Elasticated trousers can be easier than zips or buttons.
  15. If your child needs to bring a lunch – choose a lunch box and flask that s/he can open easily. Carton drinks are easier and safer than bottles. Again make sure that the school bag can hold these.
  16. Give some thought to lunches too. If your child wants to bring oranges to school, for example, only peeled oranges should be included. Set yogurts may help avoid unnecessary spills.
  17. Try to get your child up a little earlier, as this will ensure a stress-free morning
  18. Create a family calendar that tracks everyone’s activities and commitments. You can put this calendar on the fridge for everyone to see.

Finally, try to relax and enjoy this next step in your child’s life development. Good luck!

For more see the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (www.into)

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….