School Readiness

By Elizabeth Cummings 03/10/2017


If you have a child under 5 you may of heard the term “School Readiness” once or twice or maybe a few hundred times, why I hear you ask? what does school readiness even mean? well I am here to tell you.

School Readiness is a term that is used my professionals to determine if a child has the skills that are needed to be able to transition to school smoothly. Teachers in Primary schools expect children to begin their nursery/reception class with these skills already imbedded, this will then allow the teachers to begin teaching straight away and for children to learn. However, when children start school and do not have these skills in place it can be disruptive for teachers and they can find it difficult to teach the children as they are not school ready.

School nurseries and reception classes are structured learning zones, although the emphasis is still on learning through play, children are expected to achieve skills at a much faster pace than at nursery as schools have targets that they must achieve. They also have more focused table based activities where children will need to sit at a table and concentrate for longer periods of time.

Firstly children will need to be able to separate from their parents/carer without becoming distressed, attending a nursery provision before starting school is an excellent way to practice these fundamental skills. You will be able to transition your child a lot slower and taking it step by step will help you both to transition into school life much easier.

It is expected that children attending school are able to use the toilet, this however is not essential in the nursery department of school however teachers still expect that children are able to take themselves to the toilet, clean themselves and wash and dry their hands. At a nursery provision, we work with parents and children to allow them time to learn these skills in a more relaxed way. Using the toilet can be quite a challenging time and can be stressful for both the child and the carer, it is important to remember that children have to be taught how to use the toilet, in my experience I have found that pull ups offer a protective layer for not only the child’s clothes but for the child themselves, when a child wets themselves the feeling of wet clothes on the body is not comfortable, so children learn that when they wet their clothes they don’t like it but when they use the toilet, their clothes stay dry. The toilet is quite a scary place, to a child it’s a big white loud monster that they think they will disappear down when they sit on it. Never flush the toilet when the child is sat on it, this may frighten them, hand dryers can also be frightening, explain what each part of the bathroom does and that way children will learn to understand each part and not be frightened.

Children need to be able to socialise with other children, to be able to explore areas independently, take turns and be kind to others, attending a nursery provision or play group will help children to learn those necessary skills to transition smoothly to school as they will be in a classroom with approximately 30 children.

Children will need to be able to tidy up after themselves, playing games at tidy up time with help develop these skills, allowing children to tidy up and showing them where the toys go will help to. Children will also need to get into a routine at bed time to make sure they are not tired at school, they will be expected to sit at circle time and listen to the teacher for short periods of time, but children can find this difficult as their attention spans are quite short, reading stories at bed time or having some quite time during the day can help with these skills.

Children will need to be able to follow instructions, they will need to be able to ask adults for help, in schools the ratio is 1:13 rather than 1:8 like it is in a nursery provision. Children will need to have independence, they will need to be able to feed themselves using a knife and fork and drink without spilling. Children will need to be able to dress and undress themselves for PE. It is expected that when children attend school they are able to read their name and begin to write their name, they should be able to hold a pencil correctly and be able to make marks as they will learn quickly to write sentences as early as reception.

Schools accept children from 3 years old but did you know that your child can attend a private nursery until the term after your child turns 5? Children do not lawfully have to attend a school setting until the term after their 5th birthday, however if your child is attending a nursery setting before school this allows them to learn these skills in a similar environment but at a much slower pace, they are in a lower ratio and practitioners plan independently for the child’s individual needs, abilities and interests to enable children to learn the skills that allow them to be classed as school ready.

We have settings in Chadderton, Oldham, Woodhouse Park and Benchill in Wythenshawe, each setting works closely with parents/carers and schools to enable children to learn these skills in a safe and secure environment, we encourage parents/carers to help their child become school ready by working together completing home learning activities offering ideas for fun things to do together at home, advice on routines and behaviour strategies, because we have a lower ratio to school teachers we are able to spend a little extra time with your child so that they can any support they need before they transition to big school.

With the introduction to the 15 hours free education entitlement and now the 30 hours for those working parents who meet the criteria, children are able to attend nurseries and build these skills before heading straight to school giving the children better opportunities and are then more likely to succeed when they attend school as they will be school ready.

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