Tuesday 27 August 2019

CHILDREN: The Ways I Have Been Supporting Isabella in Readiness for Starting School

CHILDREN: The Ways I Have Been Supporting Isabella in Readiness for Starting School*Advertorial Content - Gifted Items
Isabella starts school this September and as sad as I am about this milestone already being here we have been doing quite a few things over the past year really to support the transition between home/nursery life into school life. Perhaps one of the most helpful things we did was to reduce her hours at nursery and enrol her into the Pre-School that is attached to what will be her Primary School. I know this won't be an option for many due to schools not having pre-schools or working hours, but if it is I would highly recommend looking into it.

Isabella will be going to a relatively small village school and every single one of her classmates went to the Pre-School, so she has already had a chance to meet, play and interact with them but importantly in a less formal environment. The Pre-School also did a whole range of transition activities linked to the school on the run up to the summer holidays, including going to assembly, on welly walks, visiting the Reception classroom and eating lunch in the dinner hall. All of these Isabella has done, so hopefully they won't be intimidating for her come September. If Pre-School isn't an option then make the most of the transition day/s that schools run in the summer term for the new Reception classes, as well as trying to get to know parents of other children in their class so play dates can perhaps be arranged over the summer.
Isabella has always been a child that has wanted to learn to write/spell her name etc., so we have been practising her writing for well over a year now. This is something that I always take her lead on and never ask her to sit down and 'practice'; it is when she wants to and for as long as she wants to. That way it has never been an activity that causes stress or an argument; it's an enjoyable calming activity that we enjoy doing sometimes while Poppy names. I have a few wipe clean number/letter/shape books from Aldi that are really good and reusable, but I think it is always important to focus on mark marking before writing. Asking a child who hasn't written anything before to suddenly form letters correctly is really too much of an ask; they need to learn how to control a pencil first and this is all linked to their fine motor skills. Once your child can confidently trace over various lines (straight, wiggly, curly, swirly etc.) then you may want to see if they'd like to try without tracing and then move onto letters/numbers that way. 
To teach Isabella how to write her name I taught her one letter at a time over months to be honest. Personally, I wanted to teach her how to form her name correctly, so with a capital letter at the beginning (explaining that it's because we're writing a name and names are important, so need a capital letter every single time) and lowercase letters for the rest. The letters she found the most tricky to learn were a, b and e within her name, but after a good few months of practising as and when she wants to she can now confidently and independently write her name small enough to fit on a line. Soon after mastering her own name she wanted to learn more, so she can also now write/spell Poppy, Mummy and Daddy (as well as biscuits, with help for spelling, when she wants to add them to the shopping list!). We haven't explored writing the whole alphabet, mainly because it's phonics children need to learn first and not just a whole load of letters, but also because I've wanted to keep everything driven from Isabella and her interests. The Smiggle Colour Collection has been the perfect set of crayons to use to make writing with Isabella exciting and interesting for her. It contains coloured, neon and metallic crayons, so can be used to make a wide variety of different finishes/looks.
As we are now approaching September rather quickly I have started supporting Isabella in getting changed/unchanged for PE. For the past 9-12 months Isabella has been able to get herself dressed and undressed (I think this came about after having Poppy and a real need for Isabella to be able to be more independent with certain things), but the layers of school uniform can be a bit tricky. Smiggle have a fun range of drawstring bags that are perfect for PE kits, including this Believe Drawstring Bag that Isabella will be using when she starts school. She loves the iridescent finish, sparkly unicorns and colourful rainbows, which is making her even more excited about getting ready for PE. At Isabella's nursery they've been doing 'PE lessons' for a while now, with the main aim to help children learn how to get themselves ready for PE and then ready in their other clothes again. If your child's nursery doesn't do this then it may be worth asking if it is possible because it's the most realistic way for them to get some practice in prior to starting school in September. 
At home I've put all of Isabella's school uniform in a box under her bed, so that she can access it herself and be completely independent when it comes to getting dressed. We've been working together as a team to practice putting on her polo shirt, doing up the buttons, then putting her dress on, socks on and finally a cardigan. As we've gone through each step I've been trying to share tips on how to make each stage easier for her and as I'm there I'm able to identify any steps that she is finding particularly difficult. Getting dressed is usually the easiest part; it is getting undressed where things get a bit trickier. I decided to size up on the pinafore dresses because I found that the ones with the zip down the front were quite tricky for Isabella to get her arms out of to take it off, so by getting 5-6 years it gives her that extra bit of room. I've also been teaching her to correct the way round her uniform or PE kit is when she takes it off, so that it is easier when it comes to putting it back on. It's also really helpful to teach them to fold their clothes and put them in a pile on a chair/table in readiness for PE lessons, so that the amount of lost uniform is hopefully limited. 

School uniform wise for Isabella I've gone for 2x skirts, 1x trousers (that are far too long and I somehow need to take them up), 4x pinafore dresses, 6x polo shirts, 2x cardigans, 1x sweatshirt and countless knee high socks. I will also need to get some tights, but find so many brands fall down on her which then isn't very comfortable for her. I know that this is quite a lot of school uniform, but most of it was picked up from Aldi so was very affordable and with a new baby due to arrive in the first half term I'm doing all I can to make life easier for myself. I already know that the washing won't be done as often as it should once the baby arrives, so having an outfit per day just makes life that bit easier to start with. When you're buying school uniform really consider how easy it is for your child to get on and off bearing in mind their own skill set. If they find buttons hard then try to have the least possible, if they can't do their laces then perhaps don't buy lace up trainers/school shoes, if they struggle with tights then consider socks and/or trousers. I have also made sure Isabella has an easy to use/recognise water bottle for in school, which is this Paradise Straight Up Drink Bottle from Smiggle (it currently has 25% off too!). The tropical design will be easy for Isabella to recognise amongst her classmates bottles and the design makes it easy to clean too.

Other ways I've been trying to support Isabella in readiness for starting school is talking about it daily, such as what she's looking forward to or what she thinks she'll do there. We've spoken about the basic classroom etiquette as well, such as putting her hand up to talk when on the carpet, tucking her chair in when she gets up from the table, asking to go to the toilet so that adults always know where everyone is, what happens if someone doesn't make the right choice (based on the school's behaviour policy, which you can usually find on their website), the kind of things she'll be learning about etc. We were also given a summer memories scrapbook by her school to fill in, so that she has a talking point in those first few weeks of school and it's the perfect way for the teacher to learn more about their class too.
When it comes to winding down time after school or playing educational apps these Seek Headphones from Smiggle (currently with 50% off) are ideal with their soft ear pads, foldable design, adjustable headband and carry case. They would also be perfect for travelling with if you're heading off on holiday soon. Smiggle has an impressive range of fun yet practical Back to School bundles and accessories; it's the place to head for those last minute school buys!
If you have a little one starting school in September then I wish you and them all the luck - I'm so incredibly nervous about the change, but luckily Isabella is excited and I'm sure we'll settle into a new routine in no time!

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x


  1. My eldest doesn't start till next year but I am already starting to think ahead to it a bit. He needs more help at the moment with some of the the listening skills you need at school so that's out main focus

  2. It is a big milestone. I had mixed emotions when my kids all started school. Looks like you are doing a great job preparing her for school.

  3. We really wanted to put Erin into the nursery attached to the school she'll go to but they only do either a morning or afternoon (no lunch) so it didn't work for us.

  4. It sounds like you've been preparing her really well, we taught my nephew how to spell his name before school started.

  5. My eldest doesn’t start school for another two years and I dread the thought of it already but I know I will need to start thinking of what I should be doing to prepare him.

  6. My youngest started school a couple weeks ago (we always start back mid August in Edinburgh) and we have also been practicing getting dressed and undressed in to his gym kit. Though this week he came back from school after PE wearing his full gym kit - underneath his uniform!

  7. Good luck to Isabella, I am sure she will adore school

  8. These are such great ways to get her excited and feeling supported as she starts school. Also I love her backpack - so awesome

    Laura x


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