Including how Covid 19 changed schools with
tips on how to communicate with the teacher
and how to connect with other parents
while new school restrictions are in place
This article provides information for families hoping to make the transition to school a smooth and enjoyable one.
It covers topics such as routines, everyday family activities, fostering independence, school expenses, and lunches.
It also covers Covid-19 safe practices, such as school drop offs, parent-teacher and parent-parent communication, and personal hygiene practices.
Every child’s transition experience will be different as they each have different needs, abilities, interests and motivations. You can help this transition to be a smooth one by practising everyday activities with your child to better prepare them for school. Being better prepared when they begin school will give your child more confidence and independence in their new setting.
You can read all of my tips below for ensuring you and your child are prepped and ready for school, but first lets look briefly at how Covid 19 changed the school routines, and things you need to know in 2020 and beyond.
Since Covid-19 reared its ugly head, schools and education settings have looked a bit different. Where before parents could walk their child right into their classroom, new restrictions in place do not allow this to happen. This can be especially hard with younger children and those who find separation difficult. Even the simple act of talking to your child’s teacher is now not an easy thing to do.
It’s helpful to have a goodbye routine in place that can be easily done in the car or front of the school before drop off. This could be a kiss, hug, have a great day, to send them off to school happy.
Have something similar in place for pick up to show that you missed them. Playing upbeat music, singing and talking about positive things before school also gets your child in a good mood and this is important as the way we start our day can reflect how the rest of our day will go.
If children are anxious about going in to school by themselves, these short, positive morning routines can help them get their mind off it.
For schools to remain safe and hygienic places there are many protocols they need to follow. For instance, if you or your child are unwell forget about going anywhere near the school, which is just common sense anyway.
But it may be harder for parents to make friends with other parents as adults are not allowed to gather in groups in or around school grounds, car parks, school gates and outside classrooms, due to physical distancing rules. This is different as before and after school drop off/pick up was a good time for parents to chat and make friends, but this is no longer possible.
Try to exchange phone numbers or emails and communicate with other parents this way instead. You can also organise play dates for after school or on weekends so you can talk to each other and your child can socialise outside of school.
Parents are also being encouraged to use stop, drop and go options where possible so this means not being able to chat with your child’s teacher.
These informal chats in the early years allow parents to check in on how their child’s day was, especially if they had a rough morning before school, as well as let the teacher know about any changes, etc. happening at home that may be affecting a child’s behaviour.
Make sure you know the best way to contact your child’s teacher, whether this is by email, Seesaw/Schoolzine or other app messages, or even a note sent in. This way you can have any concerns addressed immediately and not leave you guessing or stewing over things.
A positive relationship with your child’s teacher is important as when the connection between home and school is solid, and everyone is on the same page, your child’s success at school improves.
Make sure if your child is starting Prep, you provide their teacher with a Kindergarten Transition Statement, as this will help them to know your child better. And more importantly talk to their teacher about your goals for your child, your child’s interests, how your child learns best and what motivates them. This can all be very helpful to a teacher and allow them to connect better with your child.
PARENTS AND SCHOOL
It is important for parents to be involved in their child’s schooling, however this may look a little different due to Covid-19 restrictions.
I would normally recommend parents volunteering to listen to children read, help in the tuck shop and attend school events whenever possible. This may not be allowed at present, so make sure you keep informed on what is going on in the school by reading newsletters, messages sent home and having conversations with other parents.
Your child needs to see you taking a positive interest in their schooling and hearing how important it is to attend each day for their learning.
Practising personal hygiene with your child at home has always been important, but with Covid-19 make sure they know how to correctly wash their hands with soap and water, and hand sanitiser. They can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in their head, as this is about the amount of time they need to be washing/sanitising their hands.
Cleaning hands regularly needs to become second nature to our children. They need to know that hand washing/sanitising is done after going to the toilet, playing outside and before eating. If this is done regularly at home, it makes it easier for them to remember at school as well.
Another thing to practise is covering your mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze. It is best if they can do these things into a tissue, but when not available, show them the correct technique for coughing or sneezing into their arm.
They do this by folding one arm across their body so that one hand is touching the opposite shoulder and then coughing or sneezing into the crook of their arm.
Please don’t teach them to cough or sneeze into their hands, as they then have germs on their hands to spread everywhere. If they do happen to cough or sneeze into their hands, make sure they know to wash them straight away.
On the topic of hands covered in germs, practise not touching your face with your hands. Show them other ways to do this if they need to, like using their shoulder or a tissue.
Children, in general, love to be close to one another and this can be hard to monitor in schools where all the children are constantly next to each other. When you say, ‘Stay 1.5 metres away from each other’, young children don’t understand this; they have no idea how far 1.5 metres is. Instead get them to practise taking three big steps away from people. This is something they can understand, ‘Three big steps away’, and again, practice makes perfect.
Daily routines help children to know what they need to do and provide structure in their day. Children are more confident and happy if they know what to expect each day.
A clear morning, afternoon and night routine will make home life a lot easier for everyone. Children need to get a good night’s sleep if they are to be at their best the next day. For children beginning school, a bedtime of 7pm and a wakeup time of 6am is ideal. A daily routine could look like the following:
Morning – wake up, make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth and hair, pack bag
Afternoon- uniform in laundry, shoes and bag away, do homework, have a snack, physical play
Night- eat dinner, have a shower, brush teeth, go to the toilet, read a book, go to bed
There are many everyday activities that you can be doing as a family to help prepare your child for school in a fun, play-based way, including:
You can help to foster independence in your child by getting them to practise skills they will need each day for school, such as:
All the items your child will need for school will add up very quickly.
Booklists can get expensive, so stick to what is on the list, yes buy everything on the list no matter how excessive and irrelevant you think it might be, and try to get it at a good price.
If your child’s teacher asks for six glue sticks and a box of tissues, just buy it; children go through these items like there’s no tomorrow.
Some schools order bulk stationery, which is awesome as you don’t have to buy it all yourself; you just pay a set fee. This also saves you time by not having to walk around the shops, cover books or label every single item.
Uniforms are another big expense. My advice would be to try uniforms on and get the next size up where possible as it is inevitable that your child will grow, and you want the uniform to last at least a year.
Try to buy second hand uniforms from the school or other places if available, as this will save you money.
And again, label everything that goes to school, including socks and jocks, as repurchasing items adds up as well. School uniforms can set you back hundreds of dollars as there are so many different items to get, including:
When it comes to the day-in-day-out of being a school parent, lunches are probably one of the most annoying jobs. They are time consuming and repetitive. Here are some tips to help you survive your many years of school lunch making:
Enjoying the tips so far?
BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!
To learn more about getting your child ready for school, grab a copy of my book, ‘Prepping for School Success’ from my website. It has more information on the topics covered above, plus many more, such as:
I wish you and your children all the best in their transitions to school. It is a very important time in their lives, and doing it right can make all the difference. Here’s to helping our children thrive in school, not just survive.
Author of ‘Prepping for School Success’
ABOUT JULIE DORE
Prepping for School Success’ author Julie Dore wrote her book to help parents, carers and educators to not only survive the early years, but thrive. She hosts ‘Prepping for Success’ workshops to give people more in depth information about the early years.