That all-important first day at “big school” is approaching for 2019’s soon-to-be kindergarten students.
At the Early Years Learning Centre in Turvey Park, five-year-olds Jasmyne Jensen, Evie Slieker, Alexander Sweeney and Hudson Pollard were looking forward to making friends and playing in kindergarten.
For parents of youngsters making the move into formal schooling, Wagga paediatric speech pathologist Anneka Freckmann has some advice.
Ms Freckmann said there are plenty of practical steps parents can take to help their children make those first few weeks easier.
“I think what families don’t often do yet is a bit of practice with things like packing and unpacking your school bag; you could have a race to see who can do it the fastest, or see who can find all the items you need – lunchbox, hat, drink bottle – and see how long that takes,” she said.
“If they practise, it’s going to be easier in those first few weeks. It’s things like opening a packet – that maybe a parent usually opens at home – and if they can’t undo that packet, make sure they know to ask for help.”
Ms Freckmann suggested parents set up “challenge activities” at home.
“Maybe set the table and leave off the forks and someone’s got to say ‘hey Mum, there’s no forks’ or put the TV remote up really high where they can’t reach it, so that they have to ask for help to get it down,” she said.
“If they’ve got to open a jar by themselves and the lid’s really tight, then they have to ask for help with those things – just a few little set-up challenges so that they can have a go at saying ‘oh, I can’t do that by myself, but I really want this thing, so I need to ask for help’.
Ms Freckmann said working on pre-literacy skills – such as reading to children – remained important, but in the last few weeks before the first day of school, there should be a focus on practical skills.
“Reading to your children and talking about sounds and things is fabulous, but it’s also good to do some really practical things, like making sure they can recognise their name on their school bag,” she said.
“Make sure they can tell you their full name, where they go to school, Mum and Dad’s name, their address, maybe a phone number, or where they can point someone else to that information, say if it’s on their school bag.
“It’s all those practical self-help things because children are often at childcare, where things are organised for them, or at home where mums and dads do things without even thinking, just to be helpful.
“It’s good to practise doing things in a sequence and follow two and three-step instructions.”