by Rebecca Lancaster
Well… where have the last (nearly) five years gone? We started with doing everything for him, asking ourselves when would be the day that he could settle himself to sleep, sit up unsupported, start talking and all those other millions of proud parent milestones.
Now my son is approaching his first day in reception and I feel pretty confident he is ready to go.
As we prepare ourselves for this new chapter of our lives I have been wondering whether I have done everything that I could do to help prepare him. I’m not just talking about the right uniform, water bottle, PE kit and smart new shoes (all with name tags!).
There’s no checklist of what skills or abilities children need to have in order to be considered ‘ready’ to start school (something professionals refer to as ‘school readiness’).
That said, working within Public Health plus experience from my previous teaching career probably has given me a bit of an advantage when it comes to figuring out a few things that should help my son take this big step. In the hope of helping others, I thought I would share:
Luckily our son went to nursery and pre-school from a very young age so he has learned the basic skills of listening, taking turns and following instructions. He’s able to articulate his wants and needs because he’s used to talking to different people, and his vocabulary and language is good. Because of this, I’m not worried about him interacting with his teachers and classmates.
We live in a noisy house. We always have. I’m not talking about shouting and screaming, just the constant hum of someone chatting to someone else. It may feel a bit bonkers to chat to a newborn baby when they don’t give much
back, but even walking around the house narrating the chores to baby is a good start if you’re self-conscious or not fully in to one-sided conversations!
In time, they’ll start to babble, then probably go through a phase of understanding a surprising amount of things without saying much, to fully talking. Then POW – words tumble out! Some people were quick to tell me ‘oh, once they start talking you’ll wish they would stop’. Er, No!
Encouraging self care
This is a biggie. We’re talking potty training, feeding oneself and getting dressed. Mainstream school staff will not wipe bottoms or spoon feed a five year old and will only help changing in to PE kit if the child’s in a real muddle.
Letters and numbers
Reading to your child is not only fantastic for their language development but great for developing a love of stories. A study by the National Literacy Trust found that 72% of 8 year old enjoy reading but this drops down to only 36% at ages 14-16.
Having some understating of letters and the concept that they make sounds would be useful.
Counting is an easy thing to teach a child through incidental means – counting how many dinosaurs are in the toy box, baking, or counting the world around you just a couple of examples. When children start school, counting, letters and numbers is inevitable so it might be useful for a child to be familiar with these concepts.
All children are entitled to a certain number of free childcare hours from the term after their third birthday, and it’s worth taking any that you are entitled to. Some children are eligible at the age of 2 if you’re on certain benefits. Having your child in approved childcare will help their school readiness no end. Ofsted-approved childcare providers must follow the Early Years and Foundation Stage framework (the curriculum) which will stand them in good stead for reception class.
If you are worried about your child’s development it is always worth a quick chat with your Health Visitor or your GP. Contact your Health Visitor by calling 01952 580375.
What can you do to help a child be school ready?
What are you doing to make your child as ready for school as they can be? Let us know in the comments below.