Five tips for parents for the Pre-Prep year
The new year will be upon us before we know it, enabling some beautiful, bright young faces to head into Pre-Prep for the first time.
It’s an exciting time, with some children unable to sleep because of the excitement of their new phase of life.
However, for some the experience can be daunting and parents can feel powerless as their little loved one struggles in a new environment.
There are a few basic things that parents can do to prepare their children for the experience of Pre-Prep.
From our observations of children over many years, we have found five things that parents can do to help them and their children to prepare:
- Always talk positively about Pre-Prep. This is the best way to help a child who may be anxious about the transition. Your children will feel more secure with reassurance that Pre-Prep makes mum and dad feel happy. You can borrow a book at the local library about starting Pre-Prep. This is an excellent way to start the discussion with your child about what to expect when they start Pre-Prep. You can encourage them to ask questions about what they might like to do when they attend. It may sound simple, but it’s really important to be positive about the experience whenever your children are in earshot of your conversations.
- Speak with our teachers. In early childhood settings, our teachers are very good at connecting with students. We have an open-door policy at St Paul’s School. If your child is experiencing a problem, feel free to speak with our teachers. Talking about an issue early can help to prevent it from growing into a more serious problem. Some children are self-sufficient while others need more attention from their teacher.
- Understand the importance of self-management skills for your child. The routines of Pre-Prep can sometimes be the most challenging for children used to having their parents around to help them with tasks like going to the toilet or opening their lunch boxes. It is a good idea to start to practise some of the routines well before their first day. If they need help to go to the toilet, start to practise this now. Opening containers for foods like yoghurts are also good areas to practise, as many children find this one of the most challenging aspects to starting Pre-Prep. They could be having a wonderful day and become overwhelmed when having to open an item of food in their lunchbox. Likewise, familiar foods they have eaten beforehand are recommended. If they have never had a blueberry, it can be unsettling if you pack them on their first day of Pre-Prep. Alongside everything else that is new, an unfamiliar food may be difficult to face. Also pack a normal amount of food they are used to eating.
- Don’t pass on your anxiety. If your experience of starting school was not ideal, try not to let that affect your children. It can get passed on from parent to child. We sometimes see it when parents have to say goodbye. A child may have said goodbye and a parent comes back for one more cuddle. That fulfils a need of the parent, not the child.
- Don’t panic. We’re always here to help at St Paul’s School. If something has come up and you’re going to be late to drop-off or late to Pre-Prep, don’t worry. If something unavoidable has come up and delayed your plans to collect your child at the end of the day, your child will be safe with us. Building trust is important in these times and we pride ourselves at St Paul’s School on the relationships fostered between our teaching staff and families.
By Marianne Connolly
Director of the St Paul’s Early Learning Centre
St Paul’s School, Bald Hills