At preschool, your child probably has one teacher and a couple of other staff that they know well.
The daily routine is very structured, and your child has comforting routines that are predictable and certain.
Next year, your child’s classroom will probably have strong routines too, but they will not be the same as the ones your child is used to and it may take time for your son or daughter to get used to them.
Here are some simple tips from Kids First founder and bestselling author, Sonja Walker, to help your child get ready for the changes that ‘big school’ will bring.
As your child gets ready for ‘big school’, one thing to get ready for is the number of teachers who are going to be part of their school life.
Many parents assume that the classroom teacher is the only adult that their child will have regular contact with and are surprised when their child comes home talking about other teachers that they may never have heard of.
It may surprise you to learn that many school starters have contact with five or more teachers each week.
In most Australian school systems, classroom teachers spend a couple of hours away from the classroom in order to write programs, attend meetings and create resources for their students. This Release from Face to Face (RFF) time is part of their timetable and during their planned weekly absences, another teacher will step in to teach your child.
When your child starts school, the school librarian, music, science or dance teacher may be part of the class timetable, and there’s always a chance that your child will participate in a reading group that’s run by a parent volunteer.
The assistant or deputy principal will occasionally pop their head in the door and as the year progresses, student teachers or prospective parents doing school tours might observe your child’s classroom.
Every day, a different teacher will be on playground or bus line duty, and don’t forget that teachers have days off too. When your child’s teacher is attending a professional development day or sick with the flu, casual teachers will step into the breach.
You might be wondering how on earth your child will cope with so much change.
Admittedly, it is a lot to get used to and schools do their best to minimise disruptions during their students’ first term at school, but becoming accustomed to the different styles of a variety of adults is a skill that you can start helping your child to build now.
Some children with unique needs are used to having one or two trusted educators, and it can be tricky for them to transfer their attention to other people. For example, boys and girls who are anxious sometimes form strong attachments with particular teachers, and kids who have sensory sensitivities can find it hard to cope with adults who have loud voices.
A good way to gently prepare your child for the number of authority figures that they will come into contact with next year is to give them lots of learning experiences now.
In addition to preschool, can you find activities in the community that will give your child the chance to follow instructions and march to the beat of different adults’ drums?
Anything you do to help your child adjust to having more people in their life will be valuable preparation for next year.
Kids First’s popular READY SET SCHOOL program has guided thousands of four and five-year-olds to a successful start to school. Led by members of our experienced clinical team, this five-week program takes a ‘whole child’ approach to building children’s skills and confidence as they prepare for ‘big school’.