Back in April, we shared our blog ‘What school-readiness means to us’ where we detailed a number of skills, aptitudes and attitudes which aim to ensure children are not only ‘school-ready’ but have a healthy and positive approach to life-long learning: Resilience, Endeavour, Attitude, Desire, Individuality, Nurtured, Excitement, Self-Esteem and Specialness. These are all skills and aptitudes that we have been developing with your child since they started at nursery with us; and which you will be further building on at home without even realising it!
We understand, however, given the current climate that we find ourselves in, many of our parents are concerned that their child has missed out on vital time at nursery in the lead up to starting school in September. We have therefore put together some top tips of some small things which you can do at home in the coming weeks to help further prepare your child for the move to school.
It is important to remember that the skills, aptitudes and attitudes detailed in our previous blog and above, directly link to each top tip; allow your child to learn from their mistakes, let them take a bit of extra time to keep trying what they are doing and celebrate each small success together (even if that does involve a pyjama top on back to front or a little more mess than usual!).
- Help children recognise their name: Your child won’t be expected to write their own name independently at the start of school, but some schools may ask children to find their name for registration or locate their own peg. You could have a go at this at home by putting their name on their bedroom door (and wherever else you’re willing) to help them recognise it.
- Encourage independence: Children with more independence and who are able to do a few things for themselves, will feel happier and tend to settle more quickly at school. There are a few skills which you can practise at home to help your child become independent; however, don’t worry if your child can’t do all of these things before they start school, children are supported by teachers and staff at school to help develop these skills. At home, support your child to be ready and prepared for a group lunchtime by ensuring they always eat at a table, have access to their own cutlery and pour their own drinks; children should also try using a tissue to blow their nose, tidying up after themselves, dressing themselves, being fully toilet trained during the day and washing their own hands properly. This last one is particularly important at the moment. It is something that we are continuing to do with the children at nursery and should be something you reinforce at home.
- Strengthen fine motor skills: This is something that we have been developing with each child since the day they started nursery; and you will be surprised at how some of the activities which you are probably already doing with your children at home, are actually strengthening their fine motor skills! As you may be aware, to become a confident writer, children need strong fine motor skills giving them good control of their hand muscles. You can help develop these further at home by playing with small objects, such as lego, beads and puzzles. Practising activities such as tying shoelaces and using a knife and fork also require strong fine motor skills.
- Sharing stories: An integral part of children’s first year at school is phonics. It is through phonics that children gain the skills they need in order to become competent readers and writers. Just by sharing stories with your children on a regular basis, helps prepare them to learn phonics at school. After sharing a story, encouraging them to retell the story or make props to act it out, will further help develop their understanding of specific words and the book in general.
- Practise listening: We all know that this isn’t as easy as it sounds! And we know this is definitely something all parents and nursery settings will have been practising with their children for years. At school, children will be expected to listen to their teacher’s instructions in order to carry out activities in and out of the classroom. In order to help develop this important skill further, you can try playing games such as ‘Simon Says’ and ‘Can you find?’. Once children master simple instructions, try adding two or three instructions together, such as “Take your shoes off, then wash your hands, then sit down at the table, please.”
As we have mentioned many times, you can be assured that your children already have many of the characteristics and skills needed to start school. Every small story, long conversation or interactive activity that you have done with your child before, during and since lockdown, will have helped your child further develop an important skill or aptitude. The key is to just keep doing what you are doing; continue to encourage your children to play and laugh, practise a few of the practical elements listed above, and enjoy some family time before school starts!