A GUIDE TO STARTING SCHOOL
Updated: Jul 9
What is school readiness?
School readiness is a phrase which is often used in pre-school settings but what does it really mean? Here, we explore what a 'school ready' child looks like and share some practical ways to prepare your child for that all important big day in September. It is worth remembering that there can be a huge difference between a child who has only recently turned four and a child who will turn five in their first few weeks at school. A turbulent couple of years due to the global pandemic will also mean that your child has spent a lot of time at home. Schools are very aware of this and will adapt and ensure that they meet the children at the various stages that they are at! Childhood is not a race and early years professionals are more than used to differentiating their provision to ensure appropriate levels of challenge for all.
What can a school ready child do?
Examples of school readiness are, a child who is:
able to dress and undress independently (although help may be needed with tricky buttons!)
able to put on and take off their coat, plus do and undo the zip
able to use cutlery to eat lunch - all Reception aged children are entitled to a free school meal
curious about learning, who asks and answers questions
able to use the toilet and wash their hands independently
able to take turns and make friends
able to follow simple rules and instructions
healthy and active
able to cope in a group of children
able to sit and listen for short periods of time, i.e 5 minutes
able to tidy away toys!
able to participate in music and storytelling activities
What is not expected?
Children don't have to recognise all of their letters and numbers. They also don't have to be able to read books.
What activities can I try at home?
Visit the library and take out a book: look at the front cover and guess what the story might be about, talk about where the story starts and ends, use the pictures to tell the story, retell the story using puppets or masks. You could even make your own!
Go on a shape hunt around the house and outdoors: talk about what the shapes look like. How many sides and corners do they have? Make shape patterns and pictures.
Do something fun outdoors: make an obstacle course, build a den, create a bug hotel. All of these activities involve team work and lots of discussion, promoting your child's language development!
Practice counting: blow bubbles outdoors – how many can you pop? Who can pop the most? Can you pop more the next time? Make a model using 3/4/5/6 pieces of construction kit. Thread and count beads onto a piece of string. Click for more fun counting and number recognition activities to do with your child.
Be creative: draw or paint a picture, make a model, create a collage or do some printing! Practice cutting and using an appropriate amount of glue or paint. Talk about the colours and textures with your child.
Get physical: visit a park or play area, play in the garden, practice rolling/throwing and catching/kicking a large ball.
Activities which develop your child's fine motor skills will help to get them ready for many tasks in school, such as writing, drawing, using scissors, turning the pages of a book, construction and using a computer mouse or keyboard.
Small world play is a wonderful way to develop children’s imagination, creativity and story telling skills. This blog post provides examples of how you can create your own small world set ups.
Help to develop your child's speaking and listening skills. Phase One of Letters and Sounds lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2 at school. Go on a sound walk, talk about the loud/soft, high/low sounds made when you play instruments, do action songs and read rhyming books together.
If you do want to introduce letters to your child, begin with the SOUNDS, rather than placing too much emphasis on the letter names. Make sure that the sounds (phonemes) are pronounced correctly by children and adults! Sometimes people add /uh/ on the end of a sound (for example, /m/ becomes muh). There are clips online demonstrating the correct pronunciation. Here you will find hands on activities for teaching letters and sounds.
What happens next?
The summer before your child starts school, you will probably be invited to a new intake parents' information evening. If coronavirus restrictions are imposed again, this might be online. If possible, your child will have at least one settling in session at school and the teacher might visit them at their preschool setting. Some schools also offer a home visit. Don't be afraid to inform your child's new teacher of any particular needs or requirements which your child may have.
Images from Pixabay