Have you got a little one starting school this September? You may be feeling nervous.. but how are they feeling? As with a lot of things preparation is key. So if you haven’t already started discussing school, now is a great time to do so. A lot of children will be more than ready to start ‘big school’, having been at nursery for most probably over a year, but if you feel your child needs more reassuring read on.
We’ve found some great books, which will help children to understand what to expect on their first day at school.
From left to right. The classic ‘Starting School’ by Janet & Allan Ahlberg – this book talks you through the first day and even on through the year. It’s beautifully illustrated, bright and colourful. We read it to our charges before they started school and they really enjoyed this book.
We also found some books on starting school at our local library – check the ‘First Experiences section for these books, sometimes it’s nice for children to see photographs of children in the real word as well.
‘Come to School Too Blue Kangaroo’ – Lilly thinks blue Kangaroo is worried about going to school but actually he can’t wait (It’s Lilly who’s actually worried). This is a reassuring book about starting school.
FROM THE EXPERT
We spoke to a reception teacher and these are her top points for making the move to big school an easy transition. She gave us her personal opinions on the subject, as it really can vary – some teachers may feel academic abilities are more important and others will feel social are more important!
Of course it’s rather difficult to generalise completely as all children are different. We also must take into consideration that schools vary hugely as well. Preparation for a private school, will be very different, more intense and expectations will be different.
For me personally it’s probably got to be the social and emotional side as I feel if children don’t have those aspects secure and embedded then they can’t achieve academically. However I do feel being able to recognise their name and write it, count, write and recognise to 10 and be able to hold a pencil also is a huge help but an added bonus.
So my top 5 tips would be:
- Children should be able to independently dress themselves and undress themselves. Pack a bag and unpack a bag – this allows them to change for P.E., forest schools and any other activities independently allowing for less adult intervention.
- They should be clean and dry and manage their own personal hygiene – something we would expect a child to manage by school time and is an early learning goal for the EYFS.
- Children starting school should be able to sit on the carpet, listen and join in with stories and conversations for a period of time. This is critical to allow them to learn, they must be able to sit still, listen and absorb and then respond but also feel secure and confident to get involved.
- Leave parent/carer with ease and be confident and secure in environment – key for a child to learn if happy to leave main care giver.
- Children should also have a good language base to allow them to communicate efficiently. Meaning they will be able to follow instructions and have a good understanding of what what is being asked of them – if they can’t do this they don’t have a good understanding of what is being asked of them during learning time.
Letters, numbers & writing abilities
I also ask my pre-school and parents to encourage their children to be able to:
- recognise their name and if possible writing it, with the correct letter formation! This is key, if taught incorrect letter formation it’s hard to break habit. (This will be practiced at pre-school/nursery)
- At least recognise and count to 5. Writing the numbers is an added bonus.
- Have good fine and gross motor skills/coordination this will then enable child to hold a pencil correctly with good pressure.
In all honesty children need so many things to be school ready, but as long as they are happy and have no attachment issues and are confident in new social situations then they are normally ready to learn!
We hope this post has helped. Just remember children will be very tired after their first day at school and will probably not remember what they did at all. You could try and get around this by asking them different questions about what they did and how their day was. We love this list of 25 ways to ask your children how school was today.
All that’s left is to say Good Luck!