If your child is starting school in September, you might be thinking about what you can be doing now to prepare them for ‘big school’. Part 1 of our “Starting School” blog Early Years is Vital for Success in the Future covered what you should be looking for in a school, so now we take a look at what children should be learning now and what you can be doing to give them the best start.
Talk to your child about starting school
If they are already at pre-school or a nursery then starting ‘big school’ won’t be such a big leap, but talking to your child about their school and what to expect will help to remove the fear of the unknown and help to build excitement.
Be positive. School life should be some of the best days of your life. Therefore, it is important to be positive about school and talk about your positive experiences. Talking about having fun, learning new things and making lots of new friends. This will strengthen your child’s confidence so they feel safe and supported, and your positive attitude towards this change will be picked up by your child.
Meeting the teacher.
At Colchester High School, we believe it is important for your child to want to be here so we always provide them with lots of opportunities to visit the School and meet their new teachers and classmates. Our next event, Festive Friends: An Early Years Community Event, will be held on Thursday 16 December from 10 am to 11.30am. Open to all children aged 2 to 5 years old, the children will enjoy a fun interactive morning exploring festive celebrations around the world. Please click here to book a place at our Festive Friends Event
Children will be asked to do many things at school for themselves, encourage your child to dress and undress independently, to feed themselves using a knife and fork, go to the lavatory independently, wash their hands and tidy away their toys, to help them feel prepared for school routines. It’s also helpful to encourage them to start to solve simple problems, allowing them to make decisions and to seek your help only when they need it.
At Colchester High School, our approach is to help children become independent learners and critical thinkers, and developing their independence is a good place to start.
Share Books on Starting School
There are lots of books about starting school, making friends and meeting new people, it’s a good idea to read them together to gently prepare them for the fun that awaits. We recommend some good ones, including ‘Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School’, ‘Boris Starts School’ and ‘Topsy and Tim Start School’, to help your child understand the little things like wearing a uniform, how playtime works that school is really supposed to be rather fun! If your child is keen to learn the alphabet, please teach them the phonic sounds first as this will help them when starting to read at school.
Start Building Learning into their Day
We also recommend taking the time to work on your child’s gross and fine motor skills that will help the children to develop the control they need to prepare for writing. Spend time colouring modelling clay, shape sorting with tongs, using spray bottles, stirring potions and mark making. Each and every activity helps to develop the muscles your child will need to approach writing confidently. Recognising and writing their name is helpful so they can find their peg and labelled belongings.
It’s also never too early to introduce your child to an understanding of number. It is a vital part of our everyday lives, so making it fun and enjoyable in this crucial period of brain development will help to develop positive associations. Count in different ways such as forward and backwards to 10, count different shapes around the garden, search for numbers around you when you go for a walk. There are also lots of fun number games you can play with children such Snakes and ladders, Dominoes and Snap which will also help with taking turns and sharing. Our Nursery children love identifying numbers on our interactive boards.
Help your child with their social skills
Each child’s early experiences will be different, they may be an only child or have older or younger siblings. They may have been in a nursery setting before, been at home or been with a small group of children and a childminder. And being in lockdown for much of the last year brings its own challenges.
Sharing, turn taking and ‘learning to tolerate delay’ are really key skills to support success in a classroom environment. Playing board games and sharing their favourite toys with friends and siblings are great ways to develop these skills.
Plan the new routine
Make a plan! Start talking to your child about their routine including what the morning will look like and who needs to do what.
A calm, stress free morning is in everyone’s best interests. Explain to your child what part of the day they will be in school for — will they be dropped off early or picked up late and in wraparound care? Who will drop off them off? Will it be the same everyday? What will the routine be like when they get home from school? Knowing and understanding their routine gives young children a sense of security.
Relax and enjoy it
It can be a nerve-wracking time watching your little one grow up and move on to the next stage of their life. Let your school help — the team at Colchester High School are very experienced in helping children settle and enjoy their first few days. They’ll be skipping in through the front door without a look back! So relax and call upon us if you’re anxious, we’re here to support you as well as your child.
We know Colchester High School can provide your child with the best possible start to their educational journey. If you are feeling anxious and would like to hear more about how we prepare our children for starting school, please contact our Admissions Manager, Mrs Susan Hilton on 01206 217116 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.