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As you prepare your child to start their very first year of school, you will have a lot of things going through your mind. You may be thinking about academics for your child or their social emotional wellbeing. Or whether they know how to write their name, or can they recognise numbers and letters? Will they be with friends when they go to school?

Although all of these may well be valid, there is one more important aspect for Prep readiness – independence.

As parents, we love our children, unconditionally, and as part of this we have an overwhelming sense to make everything right for them or do everything for them in the pursuit of making sure they are happy. However, we need to find the balance so children learn to do things for themselves. Often, we will be surprised at just how independent they can be when we give them the opportunity to be so.

In the Prep classroom environment, children need to be able to complete the following tasks independently:

  • Carry their own school bag
  • Unpack their school bag, placing items such as their lunch box, homework, reading folders etc. into the correct places within the classroom
  • Open and close their lunchbox
  • Open and close their drink bottle and refill it when necessary
  • Open food wrappings such as on muesli bars, biscuits, or yoghurt containers
  • Put on their own socks and shoes (Velcro fasteners)
  • Button up their shirt, pull up the zip on their dress
  • Tasks associated with toilet routines like pulling up their own shorts, wiping by themselves and washing their hands

Developing your child’s ability to do the above tasks will increase their confidence at being ready for ‘big school’.

Encourage your child to have conversations with others. Being able to speak with confidence and clearly communicate and express themselves is important.

Children thrive on routine. As parents, ensure you know the classroom routine and encourage your child to do these things as they come into school each morning. Sure, be close by, with an encouraging word and redirection to task if necessary, but let them do it on their own.

The ability for children to take risks is an important skill to learn. Safe, loving environments assist this both at home and at school. Often, allowing this space helps create opportunities for children to rise far above our initial expectations.

STORY Sarah Rowan, Head of Junior School, Peace Lutheran College