10 Ways to get your child school-ready, and it’s not what you might think!
We hear from Katie, a primary school teacher in Worthing, who usually teaches reception classes. There are a few things you can do to help your child prepare for going to school. This is a really good, hands-on list written by someone who knows!
READ READ READ to your child. Children who are regularly read to and have a love of stories are better prepared to read themselves. Also, use any story and encourage your child to tell the story to you just using the pictures. This is a skill that is often worked on in the first few weeks of school by sending home books with no words, which sometimes confuses parents!
Sing nursery rhymes or counting songs is so important. It really encourages language development, storytelling, reading and number confidence.
Be positive about starting school. Talk with your child about school. Ask about the things they are looking forward to or what might be worrying them. If you don’t manage to get your desired school, don’t let your child notice. Chances are, they will get on just fine! Attend any stay and play or visits offered by the school. Be home when your child’s teacher is coming for a home visit if this is something your child is offered! It really helps the bond between child and teacher.
Encourage your child to try to do things on their own such as dressing, clothes/socks/tight shoes. Yes, we obviously help but in Reception independence is key, often there are up to 30 children and only one teacher and one teaching assistant. It gives children confidence and stops them feeling upset if they can get ready to go outside or take part in a PE lesson with only minimal support. Practise going to the toilet themselves, including being able to wipe with tissue by themselves. Show them how to wash their hands, unwrap their food, open and close their drink bottle.
Label all belongings. Kids lose stuff, labelled or not. Without a name, it is impossible for us teachers to find your child’s shirt or jumper. After all, there are hundreds of children wearing exactly the same!
Counting. Use number names in play, encourage counting. “How many cars have you got?” Count the steps as you walk up the stairs, go on number hunts, look at numbers in the environment, sprayed on sheep, car licence plates, anywhere! Having some basic number skills will really help children to be ready to achieve the Early Learning Goal for Mathematics.
Teach your child to recognise their name by sight. Make sure you write their names with one capital letter and the rest in lower case. This goes for labelling all their stuff too. Letter formation will be really hard for your child if you write everything in capital letters.
Social skills. Being able to share toys with peers, being able to take turns, learning to listen to others will help them make new friends and have a smooth transition to starting this new chapter in their life.
Manners! They cost nothing, as the saying goes. Set your child up for the best start and teach them to say thank you and please.
Mark making. Children should be encouraged to use pens/pencils/markers/highlighters/chalks. Pencil grip and control is so important. How can children be ready to learn letter shapes if they don’t have the fine motor control needed first? Get your child to make marks (scribbling!) using pencils, crayons, chalks, another good one is using paint brushes dipped in water on garden fences or on concrete floors. Encourage him/her to say what they have drawn/written, so they might do a scribble and then tell you ‘that’s my dog’ or draw something and say ”that says – I love my mummy”. Of course, you would praise them for doing so after. This gives children the confidence in their own abilities and shows them that marks have meaning that can be ‘read’ by themselves – one of the first building blocks of learning to read and write.
I think Katie has some really important points here. My son started Year 2 in September and when he started Reception he was better at some of these than others. Looking back, a lot of these points are definitely much more important than teaching them to write. After all, that is the teacher’s job, right? What do you think? Anything you would add? Let us know in the comments below.