Our youngest starts school in the fall (he’s ready; I am not) and as we head to orientation this Friday, I honestly couldn’t be more excited for him. He’s wanted to join his brother at school for what feels like forever now and I’m anticipating the new routine it will create for our family (A commute that doesn’t include daycare dropoff and pickup?! Whaaa?!).
Here are some things we’re doing to get ready for Primary:
- The basics. Let’s be real – that’s what Primary is. The basics. They’ll spend all year learning how to print letters and numbers and read basic words, so they don’t need to be experts on Day 1. The way they frame it at the parent’s meeting has a slight air of “They should be practicing already! OMG they’re already behind!” But I honestly think that’s just a clever scare tactic to make sure that any of the kids who are actually behind the eight ball have some kind of headstart before the first day of school. And by the same token, you probably shouldn’t search kindergarten preparedness on Pinterest because that will just make you think your kid is going to flunk out on the first day.
For the wee one, we’ve focused a lot on colours (he’s colour blind) and scissor work (he’s left handed). He can write his own name neatly (in all caps) and can easily identify all numbers and most letters with little effort. I know he’ll know even more in four months time, too, so I’m not worried.
Jacob went to school with a very solid academic foundation (more so than Isaac), which in my mind had both pros and cons. Pro: For Jacob, it really helped take away some of the transition anxiety. Riding the bus, meeting new kids and grasping the new routine was enough to make his poor little head spin so I think the fact that he was comfortable with the school work from Day 1 helped a lot. Isaac is more free-spirited than his older brother so I am anticipating an easier time with the adaptation aspects. Con: It was, and still is, that Jacob finds school pretty “easy.” Don’t get me wrong — I’d much rather him be ahead of the curve than behind, but I think he’s been a little prone to busy and chatty behaviour in class because he finishes his work quickly and then gets distracted. As with many aspects of parenting, it’s a double-edged sword for sure and a nearly impossible balance to strike.
Long story short, in our experience, prepping them with Primary skills is a careful balance between making sure they’re ready and going overboard with the summer vacation schoolwork. If they are independent, are read to on a regular basis and have been practicing the fundamentals, they’ll be fine.
- Practicing patience. “Mummm! Mum! Mama! Maaaaaaa!” Right? Exactly. Primary teachers should be nominated for sainthood.
- Learning our public washroom skills. We learned this one the hard way with Jacob. While we practiced using stalls and worked on our hygiene habits, we failed to consider modesty as part of our lessons. During the first week of school, he tearfully reported that older boys were laughing at him because they saw his bare bum at the urinal. It never occurred to us to make sure he knew to just pull his pants down in the front and not to drop them to his knees as he’d been in the routine of doing at home in the privacy of his own bathroom. The poor little dude. We convinced him that the other kids weren’t laughing at him, but rather just laughing because bare bums are funny (at which time his dad mooned him and he dissolved in a fit of laughter so the lesson was well received). The good news is, we won’t let that happen to Isaac.
- Instilling the importance of proper hand washing. I ask Jacob if he always washes his hands with soap after the aforementioned public washroom use, and he swears he does, but I’m highly skeptical. I’m not a germaphobe, but if there’s anything we can do to keep school-borne illnesses at bay, it’s hand washing.
- Picking up after one’s self. Jacob’s first report card was filled with all WDs (well developed, which is an “A” in our school’s marking scheme) except one. He got D (developing) under the “Taking care of your belongings” category. Our sensitive star student was mega bummed by this, but when he came home shortly thereafter with an armful of hoodies that had been stuffed in his desk, he started to understand why. His little brother will be 10x the hoarder, I expect. And those pricey Contigo cups, even with their personalized Mabels Labels (we put those babies on everything!) are guaranteed to be left behind. Luckily I have two kids with the same last name attending the same school so hopefully one of the two will snag anything that’s ours (wishful thinking, no doubt).
*Mental note: Get a photo of Isaac in the same pose on the first day of school!