Five is such a tiny number, and “5-years-old” seems almost too tiny to be trotting off to school. Are they ready for it? Are you?
Yes, that’s an obvious one, and of course your preschooler is out of daytime nappies. But:
- Can he unbutton his jeans on his own?
- Is he confident to go to the toilet alone?
- Is she confident to use a toilet she is not familiar with?
- Will he remember to wash his hands?
- Does she know not to pull down her knickers until she is in the cubicle and how to close the door?
- Does he know how to unlock the door once it’s locked?
- If you bought a new lunch box to celebrate the first day of school, does your 5-year-old know how to open it?
- Have you explained what to do with empty sandwich bags, muffin wrappers and the yoghurt spoon once the food is gone?
- Is your child able to open the (occasional) muesli bar and chippie packet?
- Does she know what to eat for morning tea and what to leave for lunch? (You may want to colour-code the food or mark it with stickers.)
Did you tell your schoolchild what to do if:
- You are late picking him up from school?
- She falls over in the school yard and scrapes her knee?
- He sees somebody else at school get hurt?
- Somebody says something mean to him or to his friend?
- The child they usually play with is off sick and she has to make new friends?
- You forgot to pack his lunch?
- A stranger says: “Your mum’s had an accident and she asked me to drive you home.”
- A school friend suggests that they leave the school grounds together at lunchtime and go play in the bush or at the friend’s house?
Able and responsible
- If your 5-year-old takes off her shoes at school, does she know where to put them so that they don’t get lost? Can she fasten them on her feet again?
- Can he open and close his school bag with ease? Can he look after it?
- Can she be trusted to reapply sunscreen at lunchtime and keep her hat on? (Teachers usually monitor that, but it’s even better if your child can look after herself.)
- If there is swimming at school, does your child know the basic water safety rules? Can he change into togs, apply sun block, dry himself and get dressed again?
Are you ready?
Unless you’re working full time and are used to being away from your child during the day, school may be a shock to your system. Suddenly you’re not in control. You don’t know how much water your son is drinking and what games he plays. You’re not the one your child runs to when she gets hurt. You’re not there when she’s not chosen for the school play. Some women react to the semi-empty nest syndrome by going back to work, embarking on a university course or considering having another baby … sometimes all three. But today, sit back and relax. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Before you know it, it’s 3pm and the class play-date is at your house today! Unless you’re working full time and are used to being away from your child during the day, school may be a shock to your system. Suddenly you’re not in control.
Yvonne Eve Walus is an Auckland mother of two primary school children. She finds the school hours blissfully silent and – at the same time – oddly empty.