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My little one is about to enter big school. Like most mums, I’m a little concerned at just how ‘ready’ she is. Sure, she can open her lunch box, carry her backpack and put on her school uniform

But is she ready for the academic aspect of school? What about the social side of things? Have I done enough to prepare her for what “big kid” school is all about?

These are questions I often have. Usually at night, while lying in bed willing myself to go to sleep. And convincing myself that, tomorrow, I will make flashcards and teach her something of value (other than how to make a cup of tea).

After talking to several other mums and dads, it turns out, I’m not alone. Like me, many mums are concerned that they haven’t spent enough time teaching their preschoolers their ABCs and numbers. Like me, many mums would simply rather watch Pixar movies and make animals out of play dough.

Honestly, I can think of like 20 other kid-friendly activities I’d rather be doing than teaching my daughter her ABCs. I’m not lazy. Or a bad mum (I promise!). I simply like colouring in, baking (ahem, burning) cookies and going on bike rides more than doing maths. Barbies, yes. Sight words, no thanks. And don’t even get me started on glitter…

So how can we help our children gain the confidence, the social skills and the academic edge to excel in school without sacrificing that precious playtime? How can we make learning fun for our little ones without feeling like an alphabet drill sergeant? And how can we escape the guilt that maybe, we’re not doing enough to prepare our babies for school?

I’ve found the answer. And it’s one of the cleverest programs I’ve ever stumbled across.

Begin Bright – and say stop to the preschooler mum guilt!

If you haven’t heard of Begin Bright’s School Readiness Programme before, then let me bring you up to speed. It’s a weekly program for toddlers and preschoolers which focuses on learning. It incorporates all sorts of fun activities to help your child feel confident in a ‘school’ like setting.

Like other term programs out there, such as kindy gym or swimming lessons, Begin Bright’s School Readiness Programme offers different levels depending on the ability of your child.

 

There’s the Play with Purpose programme for early learners which is all about introducing kiddies to learning, focusing on things like colours and shapes.

Then little learners move to the Foundation levels where they are introduced to the world of literacy and numeracy. Oh.. and handwriting!

The final stages are the School Readiness and Primary Booster levels, and if you have a kiddo starting school for the first time next year, this is where they’ll want to be. Over the weeks and months, it will prepare your kids for the challenge and adventure of “big school”. Kindy kids start in 4 – 5-year-old programme and are taught to write letters, understand sounds, write numbers one to 20, add and subtract single digits and develop problem-solving skills.

These are the things that teachers often focus on during the first lessons in school. Knowing that your child has already been exposed to these subjects means they will be more willing to participate, more confident to speak up, and more excited to learn what’s next.

More than just the alphabet

While Begin Bright is all about learning, it’s so much more. It’s about helping children gain the confidence, fine motor and social skills to start school. Kids are spending time with other kids, a qualified teacher and without mummy (just for the duration of the class), which, again, prepares them for prep.

The classes are short (one hour once a week) and small, which means more one-on-one teacher time. Plus, it gives you an hour to yourself to get the groceries done without having a child clinging to your leg. #doublewin

It’s social, but structured. It’s fun, but learning-focused. And, best of all, it’s widely available. There are Begin Bright locations centres across Australia and New Zealand, all of which provide the same level of educational quality and care and work with materials aligned with the National curriculum.

Have I done enough?

As I prepare to send my daughter off to school I’ve realised that there is no magic potion that will alleviate the fears that I haven’t done enough for her. Well, there’s wine. But wine wears off.

But there is also no magic ‘place’ where she, or any other preppy, should be academically when they are dropped off on that first day. Every school is different. Every teacher is different. And every child is different.

Children learn at different rates. But what Begin Bright can do is help our children develop these learning skills, so that, no matter where they are academically, they have the confidence and the motivation to continue. And, to make it even easier, you can enrol online,

Regardless of whether your little one loves the idea of school, or, like mine, would prefer to stay home and make animals out of dough for the rest of her life, Begin Bright can give you the confidence that, yes, your child is ready. And yes, you’ve done enough.

This article originally appeared in Mum Central