Be prepared to get the most out of parent information sessions
Preschool children and their families will want to become familiar with their child’s new school before starting school and with this in mind most schools offer some form of orientation programme usually in the summer term before the September start. These sessions give an opportunity for everyone to meet each other and form an important part of the transition process.
Schools will also provide families with an information pack but it is useful to have a list of questions in mind when attending sessions just in case they are not covered by the school’s approach.
Here are our suggestions
· Who are the adults that my child will come in contact with? What are their names and roles?
· Does the school provide a ‘My School’ booklet for new children and does this contain photos of these staff with their names?
· Can we visit the classroom before the summer holidays? Some schools run preschool workshops which are held in the classroom.
· Does my child’s class have its own designated playground and how much of the day is spent with access to outside areas?
· What are the school’s daily routines? Are bells rung and are they loud?
· What are the drop off and pick up times?
· What routines does the school have in place to ensure safe pick ups? These may include passwords, 2 adults supervising and children instructed to remain on carpet until their name is called.
· Is there a school uniform? Where can it be bought from? Are there second hand options available and what type of shoes are allowed?
· What does my child need for PE and does this need to be sent to school in a PE bag?
· What else should I send my child to school with? Most schools like children to bring in a book bag which will often feature the school logo. Some schools request spare pants and wipes in case of toilet accidents. Toys, drinks and snacks can be a particular issue and can also form part of the discussion.
· What systems of communicating with staff are in place? Some schools have designated times of the day when teachers will be available for parents to pop in and discuss concerns. For routine messages there may be a home/school book that goes home with the child everyday and allows for two-way communication.
· Does school operate a staggered entry system and how does this work? A staggered entry system means that all of the children do not arrive at school at the same time. Children are given a time and date to start and this ensures that they come into a calm environment which hopefully is not overwhelming. In addition to this time spent at school may be built up gradually and allow the best possible start for all children.