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The transition to school

If your child was born between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2009 then the chances are that they will be starting school this September. The school allocations have been announced and although it is a very exciting time, it can also be a time of extreme anxiety for parents and children alike with feelings of  uncertainty and fear that go hand in hand with excitement and curiosity that the talk of ‘big school’ brings. As we see our little ones prepare for the school environment  it can be a very emotional time for us as parents and carers. It may be the first time they have been away from the family/home environment, or there is an overwhelming sense of ‘where did the time go?’  ‘they seem too small to be going to school!’

Having been through this personally three years ago with my son I am now preparing my daughter for what I consider the huge transition of starting ‘big school’ this September.  Every child is individual and there are marked differences in what I am doing this time round. It is essential that as practitioners we know and understand the children in our care and as parents/carers we are open to supporting this step in our children’s lives. Children who are given the right foundations will successfully move from one stage of learning to the next, we know that supporting and empowering your children will help them to go through this rite of passage with the minimum of discomfort. So as parents and carers how can we do this?

Reception classes follow the same curriculum as nursery/childcare providers. When the revised Early Years Foundation Stage was published in 2012, Sarah Teather, the Children’s Minister said:

“I am setting out a much slimmer, easier to understand early years curriculum. It will give professionals more freedom in how they work with children, and will involve parents more in their child’s learning. Fundamentally, it will make sure we are preparing our children for the challenges of school and beyond.”

So in theory if your children attend a nursery or childcare setting the preparation for school readiness should be well under way.  The EYFS refers to “school readiness” as supporting children to be ready for the opportunities available to them. It is a good idea to talk to your childs key workers to see what your particular setting does but some examples we have developed are a home/school learning scheme where we share books from nursery to use at home, activities that involve groups of children going off to the same schools and we complete transition documents which shares vital, key information from the nursery. You will also be involved in these before they are sent to your child’s school. Sometimes we visit or attend special sessions set up at local schools, or develop a special day where children can wear and show off their new school uniform to their key workers and peers. Some schools organise time for the reception teachers to visit settings and/or your homes to meet the children in a familiar environment.

Sarah Tether said:

“…….This isn’t just about making sure they can hold a pencil – children need the resilience, confidence and personal skills to be able to learn”

 It is essential we understand what the schools expect from us as parents in preparing our children for school and communication is vital. Once you know which school your child will be attending they will organise visits for you and your child and usually documents to complete together.

How do we ensure our child is ready for school? Don’t make it a big deal that is always talked about without visiting the school or bringing the transition to life with a new school bag/lunch box or school jumper. It is important to make sure our children are independent, able to toilet themselves, feed themselves and also dress and undress ready for when they have to do this for P.E. Mastering zips and buttons empowers children when they are feeling unsure! Make sure the items of clothing you choose are easy to take on and off, a pinafore dress can be tricky for a nervous 4 year old if the zip doesn’t undo low enough!  Can they problem solve, ask questions and actively take an interest in learning and discovering? Are they curious, receptive, and open? Do they enjoy a challenge, enjoy working towards different goals and understand and work within boundaries. Are our children ready with a zest for learning? Ultimately that is all the schools want form our children as they walk through the class room doors. They want support from us as parents to encourage active learning and on day one you will see as your child dressed in their school clothes walking tentatively through the playground gate, it is you trying to hold back the tears in a mix of pride and emotion as they take the next steps of their childhood.

Article written by Kate Peach for ABC Magazine’s Summer edition. View the edition online here.

Posted on 14/08/2013 in Childcare Tips, Featured Posts