Successfully Starting the School Year

It's that time of year and your child is transitioning back to school. It’s a time filled with mixed emotions not only for you but for them as well.  In this article, we’ll share our top tips for making the transition to school as smooth as possible.

“Starting school can be an overwhelming time for both children and parents.  It’s a massive life change that needs preparation and ongoing attention and effort to make sure it goes smoothly for everyone”

Without preparation and putting the right strategies in place your child can easily become overwhelmed by the experience of starting school.  This overwhelm is often expressed through behaviour.  Your child may become upset and cry frequently, they may get angry and act out or they withdraw into themselves.  Needless to say, you want to avoid your child becoming overwhelmed.

When you prepare well and put strategies in place that work you can do just that.  Your child will feel more confident, have fewer emotional outbursts (still expect some though!) and the transition will be much smoother for both them and you.

So, read on to find out how you can help not only your child but yourself get through the transition with minimal overwhelm and upset.

#1 Stick to a routine

Routines are super important.  When children have consistency in their life and know what to expect they will be less anxious.  And when they’re less anxious they’re more calm and confident.  Set up a morning, afternoon and evening routine for every day of the week and stick to it. A visual schedule is a great way for school starters to remember their routine.  Get your child involved by having them check off the steps in their schedule as they go through each of them.  You can find out more about visual schedules here https://teachingmama.org/visual-schedule-for-toddlers/.  Routines can also help you get out the door on time without the stress and hustle!  And lastly, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of a consistent bedtime that allows your child to get enough sleep.

#2 Give them downtime

There are so many before and after school activities on offer these days.  It can seem like booking your child into a bunch of these would be good.  You may have a case of FOMO for your child however you need to avoid overscheduling them.  School is incredibly tiring when they’re just starting out on their schooling journey and all those extra activities add to the drain.  If they’re tired they’ll have trouble maintaining their attention and learning new things at school.  What’s more important is to book some downtime into their calendar every day.  They will need time to relax and play quietly and recharge their battery ready for the next day.

#3 Talk to them about school

Start conversations about school right from the start.  Avoid general questions like “how was your day?” or “how are you?” and replace these with specific questions about their day such as “who did you play with at recess?” or “what was the favourite thing in your lunchbox today?”.  Also, talk about how they’re feeling with questions like “how did you feel when…?”.  They may not be able to describe this to you just yet so teach them how by telling them about your feelings in different situations.  And if they do get upset, act out or withdraw, talk to them about it after you’ve helped them calm down and reconnect with you.

#4 Arrange a play date or two

This can be a fantastic way to foster friendships and make your child feel more comfortable at school.  You can always ask their teacher who they seem to be getting along with if you’re not sure.  Just check how the school wants you to communicate with the classroom teacher beforehand.  Playdates are also a nice way for you to connect with other parents at school.  No doubt you’ll need someone to remind you about an excursion permission slip or listen to you talk through your guilt at forgetting about sports uniform day at some stage in your child’s schooling journey!

 

Put these tips in place and you’ll find your child’s transition to school will be so much smoother and you’ll feel calmer.  Found this article useful?  Click the button below to share it with your friends.

 

 


Becoming a Skilled Reader

What does your child do when they’re reading and they come across a word they don’t know?  Do they look at the picture or the first letter and guess what the word might be?  Then keep reading to find out the most important tool they must have in their reading toolbox to become a skilled reader…it’s not guessing.

Children are not wired to learn to read the multitude of different spellings for the sounds in the English language.  They need EFFECTIVE literacy instruction in their early schooling years to become skilled readers.

Without the literacy instruction that research has proven to work children can struggle to learn to read.  Combine this with the “let’s give them some more time” recommendation that is suggested all too often and it’s a recipe for disaster.  It creates a child who not only struggles to read but also lacks self confidence and motivation and is at risk for lifelong social and economic difficulties.

When children are taught to read the right way they are set up for success!  They go on to become skilled and fluent readers bursting with confidence in their abilities and they have far greater learning, employment and earning opportunities.

We are fed up with children being taught to read in a way that creates struggling readers.  Teaching children to use pictures, other words in the sentence or the first letter to guess an unknown word will NOT make them a skilled reader.

What happens when they’re expected to read more challenging books? The ones with no pictures and with more complex words and sentences.  Suddenly they have no tools left and their building has a shaky foundation.

So, here’s the one tool your child must have to become a skilled reader who is able to tackle unknown words with ease.

They must be able to decode words.

This means they use the letters in the word to work out what it says.  To do this they will:

  1. Pay close attention to the sequence of letters in a word

AND

  1. Know the letters and letter combinations and their corresponding sounds

AND

  1. Apply the ‘rules’ such as what ‘e’ at the end of the word does to the other sounds

Sounds fairly simple right?  But did you know there are about 250 different ways to spell all the sounds in English?  Not so simple after all.  Children must be explicitly taught them…all.  They learn this complex alphabetic code we use to read through an approach called systematic phonics.  It’s a structured way of explicitly teaching children the letters and sounds that words are made of and how to blend them together to read the words.

So, if your child is struggling to learn to read you need to get help from a qualified professional who lives and breaths systematic phonics on a daily basis.  The Speech Pathologists at Talk Play Grow certainly do.  Call us on 9653 9955 or email info@talkplaygrow.com.au to find out more about how we can help your child become a skilled and fluent reader.

 

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more fun ways to promote learning and engage your child in their reading, literacy and communication skills.

 

 


5 Skills Your Child Must Have Before Starting School

Are you wondering if your child is ready for school next year? This is an important article that could make the world of difference to your child’s schooling success.

 

“Children who know numbers, can write their name and read letters before starting school are no more successful than those who can’t.  You need to know the critical skills children must have before school to be successful.”

 

If children have not developed these critical skills and have not received effective intervention from a passionate health professional then they will struggle to learn at school, lack self-confidence and as they get older the gap won’t be able to be reversed.

When your child sees a health professional, someone who lives and breathes treating delays in development every day, someone who is passionate and celebrates your child’s wins, you’ll finally be in the right hands. Your child will then develop the critical skills they need and in doing so gain confidence, make friends and succeed at school.

 

“Forget about your child knowing numbers, letters and colours and the plethora of ‘school readiness’ programs out there.  There is NO evidence to show these make a difference to a child’s academic, social or emotional success”

 

If you want to set your child up for success at school then keep reading. Knowing about these next five skills might just change your child’s life.

#1 Language skills

These skills are proven by research to impact on a child’s academic achievement.  Children need to be able to put sentences together, ask and answer questions, tell short stories, use correct grammar and more in order to thrive at school.

#2 Resilience

This is all about being able to ‘bounce back’ after a challenge and research has also shown this is a critical skills for schooling success. Children need to be able turn around their thoughts and self-talk when the going gets tough and think positively.

#3 Fine motor skills

Another set of skills proven to have an effect on a child’s learning is their fine motor skills. They need them to do up buttons, unzip their jumper and write with a pencil.  All incredibly important things to be able to do at school.

#4 Concentration

Concentration is another key skill children must have for success both at school and in life.  They’ve got to able to focus and pay attention to learn new things and complete tasks.  And this includes being able to concentrate on story books.

#5 Social skills

Both in and out of the classroom, school days are filled with taking turns, solving problems, negotiating and understanding other people’s points of view.  These social skills are essential for children to achieve success at school.

 

If you want to check your child has all the critical skills for schooling success then you’ll be glad to learn that we’ve developed the ‘Get Set for School’ checklist.  It’s an easy to follow checklist to help you set your child up for success.  It covers the critical skills proven to improve your child’s academic, social and emotional success at school as well as ways you can help your child develop these critical skills at home.  To get it, simply click here  and you’ll get access to your FREE download.


3 ways to help your child play well with others

Is your child having trouble playing with other children? If you answered yes, then keep reading!

If your child is having difficulty playing with other children, this can impact their ability to form and maintain meaningful friendships and thrive in day-to-day activities. By developing this skill, you will have a child who can build long-lasting friendships, feel confident in understanding and talking about their emotions and can support and respect others when playing together.

So, if you’d like to help your child play well with others, check out our top 3 tips below:

Play a game that requires taking turns

Children typically love playing games and you will sometimes find they would much rather take all the turns themselves than share them around, especially when they’re younger. Playing a game that requires them to have to take turns is a great way to introduce the importance of turn taking and encourage your child to say whose turn it is in the game, for example ‘my turn’, ‘your turn.’ Using direct language to explain to your child what they’re expected to do in a game helps them to learn how to appropriately take turns.

Talk about emotions and help your child to tell you how they feel in different situations

We all experience lots of emotions throughout our everyday lives and the same goes for children, especially when they're playing (and possibly losing). However, for children these feelings can be quite scary and overwhelming at times. Talking about how your child is feeling and labelling their emotions allows your child to develop a healthy understanding and acceptance of their feelings and know it is normal to feel different emotions during different situations.

Make sure you win the game sometimes

We’re all guilty of it, letting your child win every game that is played to avoid them getting upset or having a tantrum. However, making sure you win the game sometimes is super important so they can learn to cope with a loss. Showing them how to react and manage disappoint is a great way to teach this skill. Providing them with a number of opportunities to practice will help your child learn how to deal with loss and disappointment in a game, as well as teach them good sportsmanship and respect towards others they are playing with.

If you’re worried about your child’s play skills, a paediatric speech pathologist can help. Please feel free to send an email to info@talkplaygrow.com.au and we will be sure to get back to you.