Five ways to prepare your child for grade 1

For some parents the step to big school looms. Start preparing the little ones to take it.

03 January 2022 - 07:00
Many parents are getting ready to send their young children to Grade 1.
Many parents are getting ready to send their young children to Grade 1.
Image: 123RF/ dolgachov

Many parents are approaching a period of anxiety and excitement: getting ready to send their young children to grade 1.

While it may seem there is still plenty of time to adjust to the idea, it might take time to prepare for this big step, not just for parents but for children too.

Jenny Trollip, head of department at St Martin’s Junior Preparatory Phase in Johannesburg, said school readiness is an area in which parents should seek guidance from qualified teachers.

However, because a child’s school readiness is determined by scholastic ability and emotional maturity, parents play a vital role at home.

To assist parents in doing this, she offers advice.


“Your child should follow the same sequence of activities each morning so it becomes an automatic chain of tasks,” says Trollip.

“This leads to a sense of independence.”

A simple routine might include waking up, eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, getting dressed and grabbing their school bag and lunch box before heading to the car.

Likewise, it’s important to establish an evening routine which prepares them for the next day and can be calming. This routine might include preparing their school uniform for the next morning, bathing, story time and bedtime, and with no screen time in the lead-up to going to bed. Trollip suggest a good bed time for a grade 1 child is between 7.30pm and 8pm.


Once they start school, your child will start receiving homework and will need a dedicated space which is as free of distractions as possible.

“Create a homework routine with a specific time and sequence of activities to be followed and end with packing the school suitcase,” says Trollip.

You can also keep specific stationery in this area which they can use to complete their homework.

Apart from allocating an area in your home in which to do homework, grade 1 pupils will need to be supervised by an adult.


Trollip suggests involving your child in the planning of lunch boxes by discussing healthy options and snacks. When planning, remember the lunch you pack will need to be enough to keep hunger at bay for about six hours.


“When your child starts grade 1, make sure you are on the school app and class Dojo, or whatever communication mechanism is used at the school so you know what is happening and do not miss out on special days,” Trollip says.


There are specific activities you can introduce or focus on doing with your children to prepare them for grade 1. This includes reading to them, teaching them popular songs or nursery rhymes, setting up regular play dates, taking them on outings where they can learn about the world around them and playing games that will sharpen their recognition of numbers, letters and colours.

Equally important, Trollip says, parents should enjoy this time with their children.

“Cherish moments spent with your child and enjoy their school journey with them. Grade 1 is exciting and memories made in this year should be filled with laughter and enjoyment.”


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