Writer, broadcaster and mum to eight-year-old Taj and seven-year-old Grace, Tracey Spicer is the newest addition to the KidsMatter team. We’re excited to welcome her on board as a KidsMatter ambassador and host of the Starting School videos. She knows first-hand the importance of preparing children early for starting school and why parents can benefit from a little help.
Why is it so important for parents to prepare children early for starting school?
It’s crucially important to prepare kids for school early, whether they’re very confident kids or not-so-confident kids, because those first days and weeks can affect their perception of school for the rest of their childhood.
What did you do early on to prepare your children for starting school?
Our son suffers from a little bit of anxiety. So before he started school, and we started him quite young, we did a lot of different things. We took him to the school a lot of times beforehand so he was familiar with the environment. We spoke to the teachers and made them aware that he was a little bit of an anxious child, that he really likes his routine.
When school started, we made sure we packed the same kind of lunch for him each day and we made sure he knew where his water bottle was just to make sure he was in his comfort zone. We also really tried to open the lines of communication with him – I know that sounds strange with a small child! – and asked him every day after school, “How was it? Who did you play with? Was there anything you were uncomfortable about?” Fortunately, it was a really positive transition for him.
What did your children’s school do to help prepare your kids?
We attended several open days with the teachers of our children. We also attended coffee and tea sessions to meet the other parents beforehand so we could arrange play dates with some of the other kids really early on because neither of our kids knew anyone at the school before they started.
How do the KidsMatter Starting School resources support parents?
They’re so incredibly important because knowledge is power and more information makes parents feel more comfortable about what can be an incredibly stressful time. Often it’s the first time you’ve been separated from your child for an extended period so it can be a very stressful time for the parents as well as the kids.
With the KidsMatter Starting School resources, whether they’re via video, online or on paper, parents can absorb the information whichever way they feel comfortable with. They help parents feel more empowered and more comfortable about sending their kids to school. As a parent if you’re more relaxed, the kids pick up on that so they’re more relaxed to start off with as well.
To check out Tracey in action, watch the Starting School videos.