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Start preparing now for little ones’ first day at school

If you have a young one starting kindergarten this year, here are some simple tips to make it as smooth as possible – and the summer holiday is a great time to start practicing a few steps.

After teaching kindy for 13 years, Amanda Monk has simple tips for that long-anticipated first day – especially the lunch hour.

Ms Monk said summer picnics were a great way to learn how to be a legend in managing your new school lunch box. She’s seen it all – yoghurt all over the new uniform, exploding snack packs and little fingers unable to free a plastic-imprisoned sandwich. However, she said a picnic was a great way to practise opening containers and wrappings.

“A super handy tip is to use a sticky note to mark where to open a wrapped sandwich,” she said.

“Put a triangle snip at the corner of packaged foods to help open them without bursting and practise opening yoghurt tubes without squeezing.”

Her advice was to embed routines in the summer holidays.

“Start creating those routines to make getting out of the house easier,” she said. “Explain they will go to school every weekday, not just once.

“In the week before, go past the school and say, ‘oh, look, there is your big school and you will be going there on Monday; I can see teachers’ cars, they are getting ready for you to come’.”

Ms Monk says said children could practise introducing themselves and asking for what they need.

“Encourage them to approach other children, say their name and ask if they would like to play,” she said.

Parents should also start to ask their children “what do you need?” instead of “are you thirsty?” This would help children advocate for themselves at school, she said.

And when the all-important first day is over, Ms Monk said parents and carers should ask open-ended questions of their tired big-schoolers.

“Often, they can’t remember what they did that day or who they played with,” she said. “Be specific: ask ‘did you draw a picture today?’ or ‘did you play with new friends today?’”

She warned parents that their children would be exhausted until they adjusted to big school.

Ten things you can do this month to make starting school a picnic

1. Take your soon-to-be kindergarten kids on an outdoors lunch to learn how to open containers

2. Put post-it notes or a mark at the best opening point on the container

3. Put a note or mark where to open wrapping

4. Walk or drive past the school regularly and be positive

5. Remind them they will go to school each weekday, not just on the first day

6. Practise getting up on time

7. Practise morning routines

8. Ask open-ended questions: “What do you need?”

9. Practise introducing themselves

10. Practise asking others to play

Visit the Department of Education’s resource hub designed for parents and carers:

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