Preparing Children for Starting Big School: SELF-CARE

Independence is an important skill that children can be encouraged to develop from a young age. Being independent can make life easier for you and your child when they start school. Self-care skills mean that children can help get themselves ready in the morning and ease the stress before they arrive at school. Independence can increase confidence and give children an advantage at school as they are able to access resources easily, get dressed and undressed and use the toilet without help.   Life will be easier for your child (and school staff!) if they master these self-care skills before they start school:
USING THE TOILET
Using the bathroom independently involves a particular set of skills and is a big achievement for every child. To achieve independence children need be able to access the facilities easily with the use of kiddie seats, steps and hand washing equipment. Encourage them to wipe properly using toilet paper rather than moist wipes. A simple idea for getting kids to remember to flush is to have a short sequence of pictures that show the steps to follow.
WASHING HANDS
It is important that children learn how to wash their hands effectively, using soap and warm water and drying them properly. They need to be taught to thoroughly to wash their hands before meals, after using the toilet, after dirty play and touching animals.
Singing a song whilst hand washing can encourage children to stay on task eg: ‘This is the way we wash our hands E-I-E-I-O’ (sung to the tune ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’).
DRESSING AND UNDRESSING
In the first term at school on PE days it is common place for children to be seen with their trousers on back to front, inside out or even wearing the wrong trousers completely! Practising dressing and undressing will help your child with the daily routine. When undressing it is good training for being in a busy classroom if children keep their clothes altogether, this can be encouraged by placing a basket on the floor or using a chair to place clothes on. Sequencing clothes in the order they are going to be put on helps children when getting dressed. Show your child tell-tale signs of front and back, teach them tricks such as holding cuffs to stop sleeves riding up, and wrinkling tights to put toes in first.
NOSE HYGIENE
Introduce your child to the routine of wiping a runny nose and putting the tissue in the bin. Some children find nose blowing difficult, so play games like imagining they are blowing out candles on a birthday cake with a closed mouth or hold a tissue an inch from their face and see if they can move it by blowing air from the nose.
Mastering these skills gives children a sense of achievement and contributes to a child’s self-esteem giving them a flying start to their formal education.
Top tips
·        Praise EVERY success along the way
·        Actively model ALL the skills you are encouraging
·        Build skills into daily routine
·        Allow plenty of time for practise
·        Make it FUN