Parent's Guide


Your Grade 1 just entered a whole new world - he is scared, uncertain, shy and completely overwhelmed.   He needs your help to find his little space where he feels comfortable and safe.  There are things you can do to help him.

 ·    Take an active interest in your child’s life:  When you pick your little one up from school, ask him how his hockey practice was or how the oral went.  Ask specific things.  This way your child feels important and knows that you care. 

·     Acknowledge your child's presence:  When picking your child up from school or when he comes home after school and you are busy talking to somebody or on the phone, just give him a hug or at least a smile and make eye contact.  Acknowledge his presence.

·     Homework and Newsletters:  Read the Newsletters and/or homework instructions carefully.  If they have to take a photo to school, be prepared and help him to remember (don't worry, if you teach him well now, you will not have to remember everything for the next 12 years). Your Grade 1 cannot read yet and cannot yet remember all the instructions given in class.  He is dependent on you to feed him the correct information.   You must help him to be prepared for the next day. If your child is well prepared, he would be confident and would like school.

·          Review schoolwork:  Your child will be proud of his or her schoolwork. Take time to look at it and to ask questions about how he or she went about completing it. Praise your child.  Let your child know that making mistakes is a part of work, and that we should learn from our mistakes so that we can do a better job next time.


·           Be prepared:  Children who are organized are better equipped to learn. It’s important to structure your daily life so that your child knows the daily schedule at home, he or she will be more organized in school and play.  Make a calendar/schedule with all his activities and important things to remember on specific days (Library books, hockey clothes etc.)  Refer to this in the morning and use it as a checklist.  Make sure your child knows where you pick him up after school.


·          Get your child involved in a school sport:  It is important for his physical well being but also for his emotional and social well being.  At least one of his extra mural activities must be a school sport.


·           Enough sleep:  We all know this, but keep in mind that with the new schedule, longer day and all the extra mural activities your Grade 1 might need some more rest.

·     Help them to be independent:   Ask him if he remembered to pack in his lunchbox and bottle, sports clothes, all of his books and have Tuckshop money.  If you remind them about this every morning, they will start getting into a routine and do it by themselves later, but they need you to set the routine first.  Do not do these everyday things for him, but just give him a reminder until this becomes routine. 

·     Create a positive environment:  Try to be positive in everything you do and say.  Develop a Can-do 'language'.  Concentrate on his successes and help him learn from his failures.  If he struggles with an assignment - subdivide this challenge into smaller chunks that he will be able to manage.  Remember, your optimism feeds his. 

·       Stop yelling at the children.  By yelling you only will accomplish 2 things:  your children will either be scared of you or they will shut the yelling out to protect themselves.  Neither will really help you to achieve any success.

·     Give specific instructions:  Be specific when you give an instruction and make sure you have your child's attention before you speak.  Explain why you give certain instructions.  If you tell kids not to touch the glassware in the shop, explain to them why you say so.  It can fall and brake, you can get hurt and we will have to pay for everything. This might be obvious to you, but they need to learn and understand. 

·     Special time:  Send the kids to their rooms 10 minutes earlier and spend at least 5 - 10 minute alone with each child. Get the child to open up and talk to you.  Ask open ended questions like "What was the most exiting thing that happened to you today?"  Children might want to share something but do not have the courage to tell it in front of the whole family.

·    Teach them to respect themselves, others and their environment:  Respect them and their opinions, teach them to respect themselves and to be neat and clean. See to it that their shirts are ironed, tucked in, their hair brushed etc.  Only if they can be neat and tidy on themselves, can they respect others.

·     Lead by example: Follow the rules of the school or the road signs.  The kids see you drive in the school grounds, and they know the rule is that no parents are allowed to drive in.  They see if you do not stop by the stop sign.   If they see you bent the rules, they think it is ok for them to bend rules as well.  This also goes for smoking, drinking and using bad language.  Be careful how you talk to your husband and how you answer his question.  Our kids are like sponges and absorb everything.  If you do not get along with your child's teacher, keep it to yourself.  If he hears you talking about his teacher in a bad way it will influence his school experience negatively.

·     Think before you interfere:  Your First Grader might still feel like your little baby (it will always feel that way) to you, but they must learn to stand up for themselves, and moms must learn to let go.  You do not want the other boys laughing at your boy or call him a 'mommy's boy' because you always sort his battles out.  It is difficult and sometimes you must step in, but think carefully before you interfere, at this age you might just make things worse.   By handling the problem for your child, you keep him or her from learning how to handle it. "Be a resource, and, at times a guide, not a saviour." 

·           Avoid public humiliation.  If they misbehave in public, take them aside, and scold them privately.  They are desperately trying to fit in and develop a safe zone.

·     Laugh with your children:  Laughing is the best medicine, laugh with your children, even if the joke is not that funny or on you, laugh.

·     "I love you":  Tell your children that you love them and will always be there for them.  They might know it, but they need to hear it.  And do not wait until after 'time-out', or after he was in trouble for not picking up clothes.

·     Support the teacher:   If they learn about saving water and your child tells you not to wash the car with the hose.  Listen to your child and fill up a bucket.  Tell your Grade 1 that he is right and thank him for showing you on that point.  You respect your child and his teacher (which is always right in your First grader's eyes anyway).

·          Don’t discuss the teacher with or in front of your child:  If you have issues with the teacher, leave your child out of it.  You will only make things difficult for him.

·     Make sure there is enough time to get ready for school:  When children are rushed, they tend to forget things.  Keep the morning routine relaxed - nobody will have a good day if you are rushed, did not have enough time to eat breakfast and were shouted at, all before school and even got detention because you got to school late.  Your child will not be able to concentrate and be open to receive information when he is not relaxed and in control.  Give him a hug when you drop him at school and say "Enjoy your day".

·     Respect their space:   If we want to believe it or not – your Grade 1 is not your little baby anymore.  Respect it when your boy does not want to hold your hand. Or, for some reason your girl wants you to rather pick her up from the gate and not in front of class. Maybe she wants the pictures in her room to hang slightly off centre - it is her room and so respect her space. 

·     Routine:   Routine makes children feel safe.  Routines help a child build confidence in themselves. When a child has a routine established and knows what is expected of them it will help them to manage their time and behaviour. Children thrive on pleasing their parents and work hard to do so.

Make the most of the time you have with your children.  

They are precious!

Other useful sites: -  

This site is a must for any parent.  It is filled with information from First Grade emotions, milestones, sight words and exercises. -

A wonderful, positive and very informative site on family issues.  Recipies, advice, toys, games and printable exercises for maths and creative activities. -

Suitable articles on every age group. -

Loads of interesting articles on parenting, education, First Aid and much more. -

A South African site with good articles for babies, toddlers and older children. I especially liked the article on Developing Self Esteem in children. -

This site has some articles focusing on your Grade 1 learner.  It also includes some Arfikaans articles.