Congratulations! You have delivered a little person through babyhood, toddlerhood, their preschool years and they are now starting prep. This is no small achievement and you should be proud. Enjoy the moment and don't stress too much about this next stage.
On the day my twins started prep, there were the usual mixed emotions. I was thrilled to have them dressed in their oversized uniforms with their polished shoes and perfect hair (neither of which lasted long!). We lined up at the front door for the mandatory photos and then set off to their new schools. We then shed a quiet tear as we waved them goodbye. We were lucky as both kids were ready for school and they barely gave us a second glance. The prep year is a wonderful time to watch your child flourish. It is amazing to watch them learn the many lessons of the school, from the classroom and the playground.
I think back now and there were a couple of things we did that helped the kids settle into school.
Our family enjoyed talking about and explaining what happens at school. We had embraced the school environment before the kids commenced school by attending fetes and other events located at the school. The twins were looking forward to starting school and felt comfortable with the school environment. The twins also knew that school was a little different to kinder and I think this preparation really helped.
Our twins were lucky enough to know a couple of the kids they were starting school with. A couple of the kids were neighbours and others we had met at the swim school and other activities. The anticipation of joining these kids at school added to their excitement and their ease with starting school. Some of the parents organised play dates with kids they met at the orientation day. This could also be a way of fostering relationships for your kids.
3. Reading and writing - don't stress out!
My kids only had a basic understanding of the alphabet etc when they started school. The tiger mother in me did become a little stressed when I noticed that some of the kids in the prep class could read. I started to devise serious study plans to get my kids up the curve! I soon got over this and realised that kids start reading in their own good time and that basically the kids who started the year already reading soon came back to the pack! Don't stress and help your kids develop a love for school rather than creating a stressful competitive environment.
4. Pack an awesome lunch
Life in prep is pretty simple. The day is broken into some fun activities which seem to teach them the basics of literacy, numeracy and becoming a friendly human being.
However beyond all that, the biggest part of the day revolves around food and play time. Most kids have a fruit break, some form of morning recess and lunch. I quickly realised that there is a great deal of social kudos attached to a great lunch box and interesting food. A dodgy old apple and a Vegemite sandwich are okay, however for at least the first couple of months I tried to put in a little extra effort.
The kids selected some fancy lunch boxes with numerous compartments. I then tried my very best to pull together a reasonably nutritious lunch that passed the scrutiny of the prep cohort. A basic sandwich always looks better with the crusts cut off. Also a home made brownie also seemed to do well. As a last resort, I would slip in a cheese and bacon roll from the local bakery.
5. Listen and trust the teacher
I have a new found respect for teachers since my kids have started school. I now realise that teachers are amazingly committed and seriously knowledgeable about the steps to educate your child. On the whole I have found our teachers have been amazingly insightful about my kids and I have taken on their advice at every step of the journey.
Obviously parents need to trust their instincts and questions any situation where they believe the advice they are being provided is not appropriate, however in the most part, listening to the experts works out pretty well. Teachers will provide simple tips for easing your kids along the journey. Seek out this advice if it is not readily provided.
Starting prep is certainly an exciting time for all. It can be a little scary for some kids, however a little help can mean that the transition to school can be as smooth as possible. Enjoy this time. It is a wonderful opportunity for both the kids and the parents to find a whole new world of experiences and friends. I have found a whole new world of great women facing the same life challenges from the prep parents. As with everything in life, the path won't always be a smooth one, however work with the teachers and for the most part prep will work out fine!