How parents can prepare for their children’s first year at school
By Elwin LeRoux
Primary classrooms are places of wonder and discovery.
A child’s first year in school is a time for building relationships, developing social skills and growing as learners and members of a new classroom community. In Primary, your child will make new friends. The teacher will provide opportunities for students to share what they already know, and to learn new skills in collaboration with their new friends.
To see what happens in a Primary classroom, watch this video to hear from Primary teacher, Cynthia Ng-Ivanoff: youtu.be/ZQc0RHN9hiQ
Talking and conversation play important roles in the Primary classroom. Children first learn to use oral forms of language by listening and speaking, and then begin to explore the written forms of language by reading and writing. If a child’s first language is a language other than English, families should continue to use their first language at home, especially when telling and reading stories and when talking about their experiences.
When children are first learning to read and write, it is important to talk about the ideas they are reading about as this will help build and deepen their comprehension skills. In our Primary classrooms, children will have many opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas with their teachers and peers in large and small group activities and through songs, poems, and play.
You will observe your children beginning to:
• notice letters on signs and use them in writing;
• match written words to spoken words and see relationships between sounds and letters;
• experiment with reading and say words out loud when reading;
• find pictures on the page or screen helpful in understanding the meaning of words;
• experiment with writing: labelling their drawings and writing groups of random letters and then eventually writing real words; and
• wonder aloud, questioning, and using new vocabulary.
Your child will enter Primary with many experiences connected to mathematics. Math is all around us and helping your child see the math in their world will help them have a strong and positive attitude about learning. Counting, recognising numbers and seeing numbers in their environment will help your child see the importance of math. Providing opportunities at home for your child to talk about numbers as you are cooking, baking, setting the table, grocery shopping, playing board games, cards, etc. will also help encourage learning. While in school, your child will learn math in a social and collaborative way. We know that children learn best when they talk to each other and discover concepts together.
In Primary, you will observe your child beginning to:
• use mathematic vocabulary;
• recognise numbers 1 to 10;
• rote count (sing-song counting) to 100; and
• see numbers in two parts.
What can I do to prepare my child for school?
You don’t need a lot of special skills to help your child learn to read, write, and do math. Just spending time with your child doing everyday activities makes all the difference in the world. Take the time each day to actively talk, play, and listen. All this helps reinforce what your child learns at school.
What else can you do? Read daily. Read a variety of books, including wordless picture books, dual language, and first language books. Hearing a story read aloud helps children learn to focus and concentrate, and to appreciate the rhythm of language.
Borrow a book at your child’s school library. Did you know that you and your child can visit our school libraries and sign out books before your child starts in September?
We’re inviting our families to use their school’s library, once the child has been registered for Primary. We hope you will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to become familiar with your child’s school.
When children enjoy reading, they read a lot. In reading a lot, they become good readers and writers. They also read to understand things and to learn more about themselves and the world. While reading, ask open-ended questions about the story that will encourage conversation and connections to your child’s life experiences.
Build exploration and a love of writing through art. Having a variety of tools such as pencils, markers, paints, scissors, and crayons available enables children to convey their ideas on paper. As your child works you have a golden opportunity to build conversation skills as they talk about the messages and ideas that they are recording on their paper.
Provide opportunities for your child to independently dress his or herself by buttoning buttons, zipping zippers, and putting shoes on the right feet. Your child’s teacher will always be there to offer assistance, but the feeling of doing these things will build confidence in their own abilities and they will begin to see themselves as going to big school.
For more, watch this video from Primary teacher Matt Tucker: youtu.be/vR0zq4w7i-0
The best advice of all …
Entering Grade Primary is a giant step for little people, but we’re here to help make the transition to school as smooth as possible. For the best advice, check out this video where current Primary students share their favourite things about big school: youtu.be/ahLXFaKleXE
We know your child is coming to school with an abundance of knowledge and unique life experiences. Our priority is to build on that background in order to provide a high quality education for every student, every day. We can’t wait to get to know your family and begin our learning journey together!