The first year of school sets the foundation for success. Children learn to become more independent, follow routines and learn essential skills that provide the platform for future learning.

Set your child up for success with these ten tips.

Teach your child to recognise and write their name before they start school. This will give them a sense of confidence that they can independently write their own name on activities that they complete.

It is also the perfect place to begin teaching children to read and write.

Once they know how to write their name, teach them to write their middle and last name and the names of the people in your family. At school, children regularly draw pictures of their family; they will feel extra proud of themselves if they are able to write the names of the people in their family as well.

Here is a two minute video that shows you how to teach your child to write their name.



2. Practise scissor skills. Your child will be regularly doing activities that involve cutting things out, so they will benefit from having the confidence to do this task independently and neatly. Start with cutting along a straight line and then practise cutting along a curved or angled line – show your child how you manoeuver the piece of paper with one hand and cut with the other. Try referring to the thumb as the “boss” because it goes at the top and the fingers underneath when cutting.

3. Teach your child to independently organise themselves at the beginning and end of the school day. When they get to school encourage them to unpack their own bag – each classroom has a specific morning routine.

Likewise, when they get home from school, make sure the first task is to unpack their bag and put it away. After a few months of following this routine, it will become automatic and your child will be learning how to be organised and self-sufficient.

4. Know the foundational skills that your child will need to learn to be able to read and write. In the first year of school your child will need to know the letters of the alphabet, how to correctly form each letter, how to blend sounds to read three and four letter words (cat, hid, stop) and how to hear sounds so they can write words. These skills provide a strong foundation to build upon.

The following video shows a simple activity that you can do with your child every week to develop all of these skills. For more information read our blog on this topic.

5. Make reading to your child part of your daily routine, for example, before your child goes to sleep each night. There are so many benefits that come from enjoying books together; it really is one of the easiest ways to not only provide foundational literacy skills, but to connect with your child and teach them about the world they live in. Here is a ten minute video with tips about reading to your child.

The Little Big Book Club is also a fantastic resource for parents.

6. Help your child develop a good understanding of the numbers 1 – 10. Start by getting your child to put them in the correct order and then practise writing them until your child is able to form each number correctly. Search for numbers in your child’s every day environment.

For example, a calendar, letter boxes, clocks or the TV remote. Teach your child to add up small numbers by posing question like, “We have three girls and two boys in our family. How many people do we have altogether?”

7. Put a 1 – 100 number grid in the bathroom or somewhere you child will see it every day. This will encourage them to practise counting using the number grid and make their own discoveries about number patterns within the grid.

8. Familiarise yourself with how children learn to read. You will be required to listen to your child read, so you need to understand that there is more to reading than recognising letters and words.

Children need to use the pictures and meaning to help them read as well as their understanding of how words flow and what sounds right. The two videos below explain how children learn to read.

Listening to your child read Part One

Listening to your child read Part Two

9. Make sure your child is learning to use the correct pencil grip! It is essential to get this right in the first years of school because it is very difficult to “fix” an incorrect grip when they are older.

You will need to monitor your child’s pencil grip throughout their first year of school because it is something that continuously needs to be worked on. For more information read our blog on this topic.

10. Develop a good relationship with your child’s teacher and work as a team to give your child the best start to school.

For more information on preparing for the first day of school, here is some useful information for Parenting SA.

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