Baby Hints & Tips

Tips from a first time school mum

by Tanya

My eldest daughter Zoe started kindy in 2012, what a year!

Zoe was only 3 1/2 when she started.  Here in WA, kindergarten is 2 full days one week and 3 full days the next. This is a big ask for a little girl who still had regular day sleeps. How would she cope without me? But lets be honest, I was more worried about how I would cope without her!

In the year before, she had come a long way from being unable to speak to adults to becoming far less shy and more independent. That confidence evolved from a combination of time (children change a lot in a short time at this age) and from knowing that I was always there. I don’t believe children need to be away from their parents to develop independence, rather they grow confident from having the security of parents always nearby (that’s not to say anything against those whose children are in care, but parental presence where and when possible is a wonderful thing for developing confidence).

As Zoe started to become independent we encouraged her with dance classes, swimming class and play dates.  She needed to learn to communicate with adults other than mum and dad, to take instruction and to interact without her usual support system. She had several play dates at a good friends house without me there for a few hours, a familiar and comfortable environment.

The first day! My husband, youngest daughter and I took Zoe to kindy. We stayed and played for thirty minutes or so and then said our goodbyes. The overwhelming feeling for me was excitement for her, however I did feel almost left out of her new adventure. I would love to have been a fly on the wall and watched her play, learn and grow. And yes there were a few tears, mine (I had an excuse for being emotional as I was heavily pregnant). Zoe did not look back, not once in the whole year.

That night when we picked her up she had sparkles in her eyes (literally from excitement).  Kindergarten was a success!  Zoe loves activity and craft so kindergarten was her dream. She painted, she crafted, she sang…well I think she did, she wasn’t too keen to tell me a whole lot about her day.  I soon learnt to let her play for a while before I started to grill her, I let her unwind and then slowly asked one or two questions.

We had a wonderful year with lots of new friends for Zoe, her sisters and our family. There were a few trials amongst the tribulation, a few accidents where she missed the toilet in the excitement and from not wanting to miss out, but nothing we couldn’t overcome.

I’m so proud of our beautiful girl and I cant wait to see what comes in 2013, although I feel sick at the idea of her being away from me 5 days a week. I love my little girl.

What I have learnt:

  • Don’t hurry your child to become independent, it will happen when they feel secure
  • After school let your child unwind, don’t interrogate them. They will offer more information in a few hours, or speak to their teacher if you are concerned.
  • Check if any children in the class have allergies. Most schools have policies about no peanuts/peanut butter however it is good to know if a child has a serious allergy.
  • Birthday parties: hand out birthday invitations subtly. Children are very observant and notice when they are excluded.
  • Take a snack when you pick them up, if its anything like our school take something you can share like popcorn.
  • Keep after school activities to a minimum the first few months as the children can be exhausted and need down time
  • Volunteer to help in class to see more of what your child is doing
  • Girls: tie hair back to minimise risk of nits
  • Keep all important dates on the calendar

Social

  • Get involved with the other parents
  • Swap phone numbers with the entire class
  • Be inclusive, organise play dates at the park with the whole class as well as one on one play dates

Storing arts and craft sent home

  • Date them
  • Select what you want to keep
  • Create a scrap book or use a folder with plastic sleeves
  • If you can’t keep some of the favourites then take photos and recycle

Food

  • Remember to keep food easy to access, remove all wrapping/pre-cut food where possible. Your child wants to play so make eating quick and easy and they will be more likely to consume all of your hard work.
  • Do a practise run with the lunch box to make sure your child can open it

Snacks

  • High carb for a quick energy boost
  • Make and freeze muffins etc to make it easier to put in lunchbox
  • Put snacks in separate container to lunch

What was your experience like when your child started school? Or if you child is about to start, are you nervous, excited or dreading it?

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