Starting School

What should my child know before they start school?
In my opinion, some of the most important skills that children need to master before their first big day at school involve self-management.
  • Opening and closing drink bottles and lunch boxes.
  • Knowing what to eat and when, knowing exactly what delicious food in those brand new lunchboxes is for morning tea and what is for lunch.
  • Toileting - they do this alone, they need to know how to wipe themselves and pull up and down their own clothes, as well as how to flush the toilet, and wash and dry their hands independently.
  • Being able to use all of their clothing, including opening and closing zips and buttons. And being able to dress themselves or undress. Getting undressed and dressed again at swimming time is a lot harder if you don’t know how to push the arms of your jersey through the right way or how to put it on.
  • Being able to open packets or knowing how to use scissors to open them.
  • Putting on and taking off shoes and socks and being able to do them up by themselves (this may include tying laces).
  • Coughing into your elbow and blowing your nose with a tissue is another VERY important self-management skill.

Being able to count to 10 or 20 and recognise those numbers is helpful, as well as being able to recognise and write their name. Recognising and saying the letters or most of the letters and sounds of the alphabet also helps. 

Here is a video with some Jolly Phonics Songs that shows you the sound each letter makes.

Here is a link to a pdf download of a book about learning correct letter formation and pencil grip. We learn the lowercase alphabet first at school.

Pencil grip tutorial.

How do school visits work?
At Totara Park School, where I teach, 4 year olds can have between 5 and 10 school visits during the term before their 5th birthday, we call our visitors ‘Mountaineers’ (Because they are ‘scaling the heights of learning’). An accompanying parent or caregiver is encouraged, especially for the first few sessions. 
Every Wednesday morning from 9.00 till 10.30 we have our Mountaineers Discovery Session. Discovery is a creative, hands on, activity based learning session. We aim to encourage play and exploration, social and physical experiences, problem solving skills, and create students that are motivated and enjoy learning.
The activities for each week are based on a theme, we have explored pirates (“ahoy-me-hearties”), spring, water, dinosaurs, transport, and creepy crawlies. For the last 2-3 school visits our visitors are welcome to stay until 1.00pm (this is during lunchtime – as playing on the ‘big kids’ playground is always a highly anticipated event). For their final visit our Mountaineers stay until 2.00pm. They can experience a full lunch hour at school and return to their classroom for part of our afternoon learning session. 
During their Mountaineers sessions any questions about homework, classroom routines, and school expectations can be answered.
Click here to download my Transition to School book.

What should my child bring for lunch?
One or two morning tea options and two or three lunch options depending on your child’s appetite is a good amount of food. Teaching or encouraging your child to eat lunch within 15 minutes also helps. They have longer to eat but are allowed to play after 15 minutes of eating time.

What times are morning tea and lunch?
Morning tea is from 10.30 to 10.50 and lunch from 12.30 to 1.30. The first 15 minutes of lunch is 'eating time' where children must sit down to eat.

When do school notices go home?
School notices are sent out weekly every Thursday, and as other occasions demand it. Notices can also to be sent via email straight to your inbox.

What stationery does my child need?
During their Mountaineers visits a stationery list will be provided. All stationery, including book bags can be purchased from the school office. We love for children to have their stationery ready for their first day of school.

What about reading?
If your child can read or recognise a few words, that is a great start to their schooling, but this is not essential. Check out this post about learning to read

Read this post for further ideas about transitioning to school.