Fretting about what to do this summer to ensure little Rosie sets off confidently in the autumn? It’s not what you may think. Leave the workbooks and phonics flashcards to gather dust while you focus instead on the essential social and physical skills a child must conquer to make the most of Reception
Your little one should be able to dress without help, a skill best practiced over the summer when mornings are –shall we say- more leisurely. Lay clothes out in the evening and let your child get on with it without intervening at the first hurdle. Practice zips and buttons too unless you want the first tonsillitis to knock them out before half term.
Teach importance of expressing emotional and physical needs
Whether your child needs the toilet in the middle of a lesson or feels lonely at playtime, he/she should be able to say so. But remember the classroom is a daunting place for a four-year old. Over the relaxed summer days, consistently encourage your child to express both physical needs –no matter how inconvenient- and feelings –no matter how uncomfortable- without passing judgement. Regularly being sad, upset or hungry in the classroom can slow learning.
If you have been spoon-feeding a reluctant eater, just stop. Teach your child to use both fork and knife as well as to pour water from a jug and chew with his/her mouth closed. If Alfred can use his utensils effectively, he will manage to eat a proper meal in the allocated time and won’t spend the afternoon gazing out the window on a sugar low.
Encourage sense of belonging
Over the languid days of summer, make time to pass by your child’s future school a few times, talk about the uniform, point out the playground. If possible, organise play dates with future classmates. Print out the school’s golden rules, discuss them and help your child to understand where they apply in daily life, as well as in the classroom. Whenever behaviour exceeds your tolerance threshold, highlight the rule being flaunted. It’s not you, it’s them.
Send them off with the right kit
No matter how tedious, follow the school’s instructions. Don’t go all Marie Kondo on your kid. Buy all the compulsory uniform bits. Yes even the summer boater condemned to a less than frequent appearance. Tick this off your to-do list as soon as possible, to prevent a late August bun-fight over the last remaining XS blazer. Shell out for a big enough pencil case with the correct items inside, all neatly labelled. We understand you may not care whether the pencils are adequately sharpened or the big marker the right shade of magenta but the teacher will. At this age, children can be very sensitive to being reprimanded so make sure this doesn’t happen because of you.