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My nursery has been and continues to be very busy at the moment working with our pre-school children to help give them the best start to a new term at their primary schools.
This work goes on for almost a full year before a child is ready to start and begins with us sourcing feedback from our primary schools about the previous intake. It is important to us, the children, their parents and carers and the schools that we all work together to understand what the schools expect whilst still providing the best and most appropriate care for our children.
But for those parents and carers whose children don’t come to my nursery and who want to help their children get off to the best possible start to their school life I have some suggestions.
As early years practitioners we encourage all children to be independent and this should be the same at home. Attempting tasks which in time become familiar practice, things such as dressing and undressing, using the bathroom independently, eating meals and through self-serving can choose and select appropriately. Children within pre-school are encouraged to listen, follow instructions and pay attention. Experiential learning enables all children to be active learners. The children are able through lots of play activities and freely chosen activities to use their learnt skills. This can be replicated at home.
Phonics awareness is taught through the teaching programme called Letters and Sounds to help children with speaking, listening, reading and writing. Children within pre-school select a book, this is taken home in a book bag and shared with the child’s parent or carer. Books such as these are available for parents and carers to purchase.
All children are encouraged to use appropriate fine motor skills. These can be demonstrated through the use of tools for cutting, writing, painting and gluing.
Try to encourage your child to participate and ‘have a go’ at things rather than stepping in to help too quickly – it is not about getting it right or wrong it’s about making sure they feel happy to try.
Build up the time that they are able to sit and engage in careful listening through story time and other activities.
Encourage your child to try getting changed for different activities – at school they will have to get changed for P.E. by themselves so it helps to get them used to it – make it fun by timing them or having a race. If you have bought a uniform encourage them to try it on and try getting changed. This all helps your child to get ready for a change in routine.
If your child is taking a packed lunch then encourage them to practice using them and opening them. They need to feel happy and confident in using their lunch boxes.
Try reading Topsy and Tim Start School together to give your child an ideal of what can be expected when they in turn start school.
Make a scrapbook about what your child is looking forward to about starting school and what they think they might be doing at their new school.
During the term prior to the children starting school we talk about things that the children may be worried about and parents should do the same. Things such as ‘can I get a drink when I’m thirsty’, ‘where are the toilets’, ‘where do I hang my coat’, ‘who is my teacher’, ‘will my friends be there’. We talk individually to all children discussing any fears or anxieties they may have.
Being school ready is so very important and it is crucial that parents and carers spend some time thinking and planning for how they can help their child take this next step in their development with confidence.