Preparing for pre-school with LeapStart


Can you believe how quickly the summer holidays are going? In just a few short weeks, our morning routines will be changed forever as Olly starts pre-school. It’s an enormous milestone for him having never been to nursery before (you can read all about my misjudgment here) and it’s going to be an emotional time for both Olly and me as we say ‘goodbye’ at the school gates.

Leapfrog, the award-winning educational toy brand, know the realities of starting school and have recently launched their latest product, LeapStart. LeapStart aims to prepare children for entering the classroom for the first time so Olly has been sent one to try out. He’ll be getting to grips with the model suitable for preschool children who are between 2 and 4 years old. (There’s another model aimed at children aged 5-7 too) The LeapStart is essentially a huge electronic bookreader that you use activity books with. The activity books teach skills such as learning the alphabet, numbers to problem solving and space science.

Whilst Olly is putting the LeapStart through its paces, LeapFrog have created some tips and advice for parents who will embarking on their first school run. In partnership with Channel Mum, they have released a video discussing how to prepare emotionally for the big first day.

Author and parenting expert Liat Hughes Joshi comments: “A child’s first day at school is such an emotional time for the whole family. It’s important to remember that in preparing for this day, it’s not about competitive parenting, but more about giving children the skills to make sure they can be confident and happy and ease into this new stage in their lives”.

These are Liat’s top tips for children starting school in the next few weeks.

  1. DO talk to them about the idea of school – tell them about your own positive school experiences and find out any specific concerns they have about not having mum or dad around.
  2. DO attend settling-in days to help them to feel more relaxed – they’ll be able to meet the teacher and experience the classroom environment. Point out things they will be able to enjoy next time they come to school, such as the playground.
  3. DO help them find a familiar face if your child isn’t starting school with friends from their existing nursery or preschool.
  4. DO arrange a meet up – ask among local friends to see who has a child starting the same school and arrange meet ups if you can, like a picnic or a visit to the local playground.
  5. DO teach them ‘self care’ – like undressing and dressing themselves for PE – practice this over the summer with clothing that has zips and buttons.
  6. DO teach them how to eat independently with cutlery, get them chopping and slicing their food as much as possible.
  7. DO toilet train them (again!) so they know how and when they can ask to use the toilet, how to wipe up and wash their hands properly.
  8. DO practice counting up to 10 in your daily activities, as this forms the core of maths learning in the first year of school and start looking at basic sums, using practical items around the house.
  9. DO introduce books and stories so your little one can see how letters correspond to sounds and words to sentences. Sharing stories and pointing out specific sounds is a gentle way to introduce this.
  10. DO teach them to recognise their name so they can find their coat peg or spot the name label on their jumper in a pile of others.
  11. DO see using apps as a positive to help – we all worry about too much screen time but good quality, well designed apps can be an engaging way to learn.
  12. DO encourage basic etiquette, namely taking turns and listening when others speak.
  13. DO practice sitting still!  Practice for half an hour at first and introduce sedentary activities, for example, completing a jigsaw puzzle, to help with this.
  14. DO role play to help your child to feel comfortable approaching and talking to their teachers and to not be intimidated.
  15. DO take time to reassure them of any anxieties, even if you’re feeling worried yourself!

If you’ve already got children in school, do you have any tips for making the process an easier one? I’d love to hear from you.

Disclosure: We have been sent a LeapStart to try out and will be sharing how Olly gets on with it in the next few weeks.

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  • Reply Plutonium Sox 14/08/2016 at 3:32 pm

    Some great tips. My eldest starts school this year and it’s such an emotional time for us, but she’s finding the whole thing exciting rather than worrying which is a relief.

  • Reply day care Karana 20/10/2016 at 3:05 pm

    When you’re visiting a potential site, pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children. Ideally, a caregiver should be on the floor playing with the kids or holding one on her lap. In their early years, babies need close, loving, interactive relationships with adults in order to thrive.

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