As we approach the end of the Easter holidays, we understand that many families are eager to prepare their little ones for the next big step: starting school in September. Typically, this period would mark the final push for our Pre-Schoolers' transition preparations.
Preparing for the Transition to ‘Big School’
While this last term before school is crucial for honing practical skills like self-dressing, waiting in line, and lunchbox handling, the readiness for school is a continuous journey that begins from birth. Children, along with the support of their families and nurturing nursery environments, develop the foundational skills, attributes, and attitudes that will set them up for success throughout their academic journey.
From the early days of learning to crawl, run, and handle cutlery without spilling food, to engaging in sensory activities like playdough, spaghetti, and mud, children are building fine motor skills, strength, spatial awareness, and muscle control that will eventually help them hold a pencil, sit for extended periods, and adjust to school life. Countless bedtime stories, nursery rhymes, and caring interactions serve as the building blocks for communication, literacy, creativity, and critical thinking.
So, even though the transition to ‘big school’ can be both nerve-wracking and exciting, rest assured that children, supported by their families and nurseries, have been steadily preparing for this moment. While they may require a bit of time to adjust to their new environments, the foundational skills they’ve developed ensure they are well-equipped to become successful learners and reach their full potential.
At The Old Station Nursery Group, we believe in nurturing essential skills, attitudes, and aptitudes that not only prepare children for school but also instill a lifelong love for learning. We’ve outlined these qualities below, along with practical ideas for continuing to support your child during the next few weeks at home.
Like adults, children learn by making mistakes and we believe that is not the mistake that matters, it is our fearless and determined approach to keep trying that counts. Confidence is key here – we need children to know it is ok to make a mistake, learn from it, and then with support and encouragement, try again and again. So, when children inevitably get frustrated at their tenth attempt at building a bridge for their train track, which keeps collapsing, we want them to be confident enough to keep going and find the solution. Problem solving is a key skill for school and for life.
We know that children are absolutely packed full of potential. We believe that we should always encourage and support children to reach that potential. It could simply be encouraging a few more details to the beautiful painting they have created or sitting for a few extra minutes to complete the puzzle they started. We want children to enjoy knowing the feeling of seeing something through to its conclusion – the feeling of success!
We believe children need to have a positive attitude to learning; to be excited, curious and engaged in learning. Lots of discussions about the exciting experiences they will have at ‘big school’ will all feed into a positive attitude to school and learning; focusing on the new friends they will make, the new toys that they will have the opportunity to play with, and the new and exciting things they will learn each day which they can come home and tell their families about. Sharing your own positive memories from school, for example, your favourite school dinner, or the lovely teacher you had and the things that they taught you, is extremely beneficial also. You can also explore the school website, which will often have pictures of the different things they do at school.
This is about the ‘wants and wishes’ of our young children. Children should have the confidence to express what they want from their learning. We think it is really important to encourage children to be leaders in their learning and we know that children will learn when they are curious, interested and engaged in the subject. We believe that children should continue to develop ideas and explore concepts through play and experiences that interest and excite them. That may mean that our most creative children may spend the summer painting endless masterpieces for your fridge, or that you end up making cupcakes for the millionth time, however, these are all such valuable experiences and learning opportunities which centre around your child’s passions and interests.
We know that every child is unique and that this should be celebrated. It is important that, not only do young children feel celebrated for simply being themselves and for all the wonderful things that they are, but that they are also able to celebrate the uniqueness of others. We support and nurture this through our positive relationships and attitudes with others. We encourage the exploration of our differences and our similarities and celebrate everything that makes us unique. There are many wonderful books and games that can help support this too but key for the smooth transition to school is continuing to celebrate everything that makes your child unique, for example, the skill of being able to speak different languages, their special families, and diverse cultural backgrounds.
We know you have this one ‘hands down’ – children need to feel loved and protected. Children who are emotionally secure and nurtured will thrive at school.
Children need to be excited, willing and eager to learn. At nursery, we plan our learning and teaching around children’s interests and passions, and there is no better way to get a child excited and engaged in learning than by doing something that truly interests them. Support their learning at home by using their favourite toys, through their favourite activities, by asking questions and adding resources; for example, real cooking utensils in their playhouse, or a camera to take pictures of the bugs they are hunting in the garden, or a car magazine to compare to their toy cars. By doing this you will be providing new and exciting experiences linked to learning. Children love to have fun and if learning is made fun, children will learn!
Self-Esteem and Specialness
We tell our children all the time how special they are, how much we love them and celebrate everything that they are good at. To be successful learners, children need to know how great they are and that they have a worthwhile contribution to make. Just keep this up and our children will make the transition to school with confidence and enthusiasm.
Finally, you can be assured that your children already have many of the characteristics and skills needed to start ‘big’ school, thanks to their loving, nurturing family environments, and the experiences and opportunities provided at home and at nursery. 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 requirements; such as, toileting, putting shoes, plimsolls and coats on, and listening to instructions etc; enjoy lots of books and songs, and some family time with rich conversations and fun.