readilearn: What parents can do to prepare their children for school

  • Published on April 13, 2018

This article explains the importance of the early years on child development and preparedness for school. It congratulates parents on their contribution and requests their continued engagement in the education of their children.

Parents often approach teachers wanting to know what they should teach their children or how to prepare their children for school—should they teach them the letter names or sounds or how far should they teach them to count?

However, for most teachers, these are not of highest priority.

What teachers value most is an ability to:

  • engage in conversation about experiences and ideas
  • get along with others and make friends
  • identify and organise personal belongings

and to have:

  • an interest in books
  • a curiosity about the world, and
  • a willingness to have a go and try new things.

The best way parents can prepare their children for school is by spending time with them, talking with them, playing games with them, reading stories to them and encouraging their curiosity by providing them with opportunities to question, learn and explore.

It is important for parents to see themselves as their children’s first and most important teachers. When their children start school, it is not time for them to relinquish their responsibility. Instead, it is important for them to work in partnership with teachers to ensure the best chance of success for their children.

Last week I shared an article, originally published in The Conversation, in which Kym Simoncini provided parents with suggestions for developing young children’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)

This week, I share a letter to parents of children beginning school, congratulating them on their contribution and requesting their ongoing support.

Dear Parents,

Congratulations on teaching your child to speak!

Easy wasn’t it?

Did you know that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers?

parents are a child's first and most important teachers - when a child starts school parents should continue to work in partnership with teachers to ensure the child's success

By the time children start school some of their most important learning has already been accomplished.

  • They have learned to walk and talk, to interact with others, and to recognise and name family members and friends.
  • They know their way around their home and other places they frequent.
  • They recognise features of their neighbourhood.
  • They have acquired a great deal of knowledge about their environment and the world.

All this they have learned without formal instruction.

Now that they are starting school, with your continued support, teachers will guide your children through the next stages of their learning journey.

In their years before school, you encouraged your children’s learning by:

  • talking to them
  • playing with them
  • reading stories to them
  • giving them time and space to grow and develop at their own pace.

encourage your child to ask questions to help them gain language and learning, questions about what, how, and why serve different purposes

Parents, as your child’s first teachers, you are to be congratulated for laying these foundations for learning.

Starting school is not a time to stop doing all these wonderful things. Rather it’s a time to work together with the teachers to help the learning continue by showing interest in what your children are doing and learning, forging a strong partnership between the school and home.

It is also important to foster positive attitudes to school. The attitudes children have already formed about themselves as learners and to school will have an enormous impact on how well they adjust to the school situation and to learning.

Attitudes that will be of great benefit to your children’s learning and progress include:

Confidence–an “I can” attitude with a willingness to have a go, to try something new, and to not give up if not successful on a first attempt.

Curiosity–a willingness to investigate and explore, and to ask and answer questions.

Friendliness–kind and empathetic, aware of the effect of their actions on the feelings of others.

Persistence–prepared to see difficult or unpleasant tasks through to the end.

Organised–the ability to look after, and recognise their name on, their belongings.

Resilience–an understanding that they can choose their feelings and do not have to be influenced by hurtful words or actions of others.

Mindfulness–able to quiet their mind and be calm in the present moment.

every child is unique and it is important to appreciate them for who they are and where they are on their learning journey

Realise that every child is unique. Celebrate who your children are, what has been already achieved and the learning journey about to begin. Have a firm belief and expectation that your children will learn, but be patient with their learning and don’t expect it all to happen at once.

Schooling is a great adventure, one you should all enjoy.

Yours sincerely,

Your child’s future teachers

a letter to parents of children beginning school congratulating them on how they have prepared their children and requesting that they work in partnership with teachers to ensure the best outcome for their children

A copy of the letter, ready to print, is available free in readilearn resources. Simply register to download and print.

Other newsletters and resources for parents include:

a series of ten newsletter for distribution to parents to provide them with information about helping their child with reading

Help your child read newsletters 1 – 10

suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the holidays to prevent the summer slide

21 suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the holidays

this resource provides parents with suggestions for keeping their children writing over the holidays to prevent the summer slide

Let the children write! 20 suggestions for parents

25 ways to keep the children thinking mathematically during the holidays

readilearn: teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.

Subscribe now for access to all resources.

I appreciate your feedback and comments. Please share your thoughts below.

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    Your letter to parents reminding me how often we think learning had to be formalized. It’s similar to writing. Sure, we need to learn craft, grammar, and industry insights, but we have to remain like a young learner with the same attributes of curiosity and resilience. How helpful this letter is to forging that initial bond between families and school.

    That’s so true, Charli. Most of our learning takes place outside of ‘lessons’. We need time to think, experience and explore. As you have said, curiosity and resilience are very important, as is a positive and supportive relationship between home and school.

    A great post, Norah. My son, Greg, never stopped asking questions as a young child – Why is the sky blue? why are the leaves green? Eventually I bought him a wonderful series of books called Mickey Wonders Why. Michael also went on to read this series which answers all sorts of questions children have.

    It is wonderful to help children find answers to their questions, Robbie. I never cease to be amazed at how little I question when faced with children’s curiosity. Their questions help me learn too.

    This is fantastic Norah. Every parent in the world should have a copy of this post! Yes, I know that sounds nearly impossible, but wouldn’t that be great? 🙂 xx

    It would be wonderful if every parent had a copy, and even more wonderful if they enacted the advice. 🙂 Thank you for your support, Debby. I really appreciate it. xx

    Such great information and encouragement here, Norah. I’m afraid that over the decade, as there are more two-parent working families, parents decide that teachers should do all the teaching. Perhaps parents need to be reminded that they are their child’s first and foremost teacher in so many ways.

    That’s so true, Pamela. When both parents are working, they must each make the time to spend with their children. Some parents find it easy, enjoying their children’s company. Others are so stressed by the weight of demands placed upon them, that they find it difficult. Those early years are very important, though, in many ways.

    It is much more difficult for parents now that often both (or a single) are working long hours, Pam. I think parents need simple strategies to apply in their busy lives. Not all realise how important it is and what a difference it can make to their children’s futures.

    Yes, I agree. It’s easy to say that parents should… parent. But it’s so difficult in this time-crunching, too busy world. Simple strategies help tremendously.

    A lovely post Norah … now the parents have the ADDED assistance of the teachers in their young one’s development. Plus the parents are encouraged in their child’s growing years to work with and engage ..

    Thank you, Susan. I’m so pleased you see value in the post for both teachers and parents.

    Thanks for your support, Susan. Yes, teachers and parents need to work together in partnership. It’s really the best for the children.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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