Starting school will be the first big change in the life of your child. Up to this you child has felt safe and secure with you in the home and family but now she or he is facing the wider world of classroom and school. This may seem a big step for someone so small but most children manage it without any great fuss or stress – and in fact take to it like ducks to water.
However, it is also a time when parents and teachers should take special care to ensure that the transition from home to school is as smooth as possible. If the child’s first experience of school is one of happy involvement, a very good foundation will have been laid for fruitful school years ahead.
It is important too, particularly during the first year that parents understand what the aims of the school are, as many may be expecting too much in the way of academic achievement.
We know from experience that parents are very anxious to help in any way possible. We have, therefore, included some ideas for the home, which should stimulate the child’s interest and nurture his or her desire to know more.
With these aims in mind we have put together this little booklet as a general guide for parents. It deals briefly with the period before your child comes to school and his or her introductory stage in Junior Infants.
We trust you will find it helpful and that your child will be happy and fulfilled with us.
Getting Ready for Learning
Children are natural learners. They have an inbuilt curiosity and an eagerness to know more about everything – about themselves, about others and about the world around them. And they learn fast – but only when they are ready and their interest is aroused.
Because they come to us so young we must guard against putting pressure on them to learn what they are not yet ready for. Demanding too much too soon can switch a child off completely. At the same time we must cultivate readiness so that they can get moving as soon as possible.
The rates of progress of children can vary greatly. We try to give them an opportunity to move ahead at their own pace or as near to it as possible.
Our first year in school therefore, is mainly about settling in, relating to others, making friends, feeling happy and gradually getting used to the routine of the school. On the learning side the emphasis is on getting children ready for learning by –
Developing their oral language and expression.
Sharpening their senses, especially seeing, hearing and touching.
Developing physical co-ordination especially of hand and fingers.
Extending their concentration span and getting them to listen attentively.
Learning through play – the most enjoyable and effective way.
Co-operating with the teacher and other children.
Performing tasks by themselves.
Working with others and sharing with them.
Getting each child to accept the general order, which is necessary for the class to work well.
Before Your Child Starts…
You should ensure that your child is as independent as possible – physically, emotionally and socially. If they can look after themselves in these areas they will feel secure and confident and settle in readily.
It would help greatly if he or she is able to-
Button and unbutton his coat and hang it up.
Use the toilet without help and manage pants buttons
Also encourage personal hygiene and cleanliness. Your child should know to flush the toilet and wash their hands, without having to be told.
Use their hanky when necessary.
Share toys and playthings with others and “take turns”.
Tidy up and put away his/her playthings.
Remain contentedly for a few hours in the home of a relation, friend or neighbour. If your child has had this experience, then separation from his parents when he or she starts school will not cause him or her any great anxiety.