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Is my child ready for school?

June 20, 2019 3:32 pm Published by

It is common when school places are allocated and children find out where they will be going in September for parents to raise concerns with us about how school ready their child is. They often worry that their little one might be behind his or her peers. Especially if they are not yet able to write their names. Many think that this developmental box needs to be ticked before they start school.

Do they need to be able to write their name before they start school?

Children will spend up to 13 years in formal education.  We believe, following the Curiosity Approach, that young children should not be pushed into academic or structured learning in an early years setting. Learning at this stage should be encouraged through play and a child’s natural curiosity in the world around them. In doing so we foster and encourage them to learn, practise new skills, problem solve and become more independent and capable. 

There are certainly some skills a child would need to be capable of by the time they start school. However, writing their name isn’t necessarily one of them.

We support and encourage each child’s individual interests. 

We gladly support any child who demonstrates an interest in letter formation and early writing. We just don’t make this mandatory practice for those children who aren’t ready or whose interests perhaps lie elsewhere. We don’t want to put any pressure on children or to dampen their natural curiosity and love of learning.

Literacy and letter recognition are promoted through reading to the children, access to books, trips to our local library, songs and rhymes and invitations to play that include letters. We aim to support all activities set up for the children with books or written signs that include a literacy element.

Quote about the importance of art in early childhood development

Don’t worry your child will learn to write when they are ready and in the more formal learning environment that a school provides.

So how can you support your child to be ready to write?

If you are still concerned, there are lots of other ways you can get a child ready to write when the time comes.

At our Nursery, we regularly offer activities that use the pincer grip and fine motor skills that the child will later draw upon when they start to write.

Read with your child as often as possible

It cannot be stressed enough, the importance of reading regularly with your child. It helps to encourage an interest in the written word which should lead on to an interest in mark making and pre-writing when the time comes.

You cannot run before you can walk

The learning process in the early years is a holistic process. Imagine someone asking you to cook a complicated recipe with only the ingredients provided. There’s no recipe to follow, you haven’t cooked before and you don’t recognise the ingredients. You’d struggle to cook the meal. You could give it go. But, it would probably end up as a meal without the right balance orf flavours and that looked a mess. And how would you feel? Would you feel confident to cook more or would it put you off cooking?

Learning is an incremental process 

Learning is the same, it is an incremental process, and children need to grasp the building blocks at each developmental stage (at their own pace) before they move on to the next stage.

Tiny Toes Hertford invitation to play letter recognition

‘Play is the highest form of research’ – Albert Einstein

Babies and young children learn through play 

Nursery and pre-school is a place for children to feel supported and encouraged as they grow and develop. Learning in the early years is cemented through the child’s natural curiosity and most importantly through their love of play. Play is how children practice their new found skills and imitate what they see and experience around them.

We support a child-led approach to learning.

At Tiny Toes Hertford we are a child-led setting and practice in the moment planning and activities with the children. This allows us to get to know our children well, and draw on their individual interest and likes when we do set up provocations.

A provocation is the considered activity and resources that are chosen by early years practitioners to help spark curiosity and extend the learning opportunities for children. Although a general direction is provided, the children are given the freedom to interact with the provocation in any way they choose.

We are here to support the children in their play and to help extend learning when opportunities arise.

Collage image of fine motor early writing play at Tiny Toes Hertford




Here are some ideas to get your child physically ready to write

Why not buy tweezers and pom poms and let your child pick up the pom poms with the Tweezers and place them in a small container. You could use any cotton wool, small toys* or any other loose part items to this type of activity. 

Draw different types of wavy lines or zigzag patterns across the page and ask your child to try and trace over these themselves, or copy the pattern below the line. Or even use child-safe scissors carefully to cut along the lines.

Painting with a brush or mark making with pens/pencils or crayons.

Stickers are always popular with young children. If  you provide your child with sticker sheets to peel and stick them on paper, this offers perfect practice for their fine motor skills.

Help them prepare and they’ll write when they’re ready 

All of this said, you don’t need to worry if your child isn’t yet ready to write their name. You can help them to recognise the letters of their name and the alphabet with songs and rhymes. 

How do I know if my child is ready for school?

When it comes to school readiness we look at this holistically and try and prepare the children in our care for the next step to school.  Our checklist is a good way to think about how you can support your child with their school readiness and check areas they might need to improve.

How we help prepare them for school

Independence is encouraged in the children which improve their self-esteem and confidence in their abilities.

Can they recognise their own name (written)?

Can they use the toilet independently?

Can they wash their own hands?

Can they help to serve themselves at lunch?

Can they use cutlery?   

Are they able to put on and take off their own coat and shoes?       

We help our children practice thief independence through our daily routines.

                                                                                     These areas are all incorporated as part of our daily routines in the Preschool room (and some of them even start in the baby room). So, the children have plenty of opportunities to practice these skills and master their independence.

Our Keyworkers and support staff are of course on hand to support and model these skills until the children feel confident to try them on their own. 

In the Preschool room, we have regular ‘group time’ (adult lead activities) and storytime. Both help with the children’s ability to sit still and listen for short periods of time. We also use named placemats and drinking cups to encourage them to start to recognise their names.

The children can access daily mark making opportunities and we support any who have an interest in writing letters.  A variety of information books and storybooks are easily accessible to the children. They can choose to look at a book independently or read it with one of the team to help promote literacy skills.

Visit to the library with the Preschool room



We provide provide simple instructions to the children.

All of the children are asked to follow simple instructions and directions from the baby room through to Preschool. The children are supported to understand the words ‘no’ and ‘stop’ and that certain behaviours are not appropriate.

Our team offer the children plenty of praise for positive behaviour and the staff help to modelled positive behaviour to the children as well.

Please don’t worry your child is very capable

We’re always very proud of each and every child’s learning journey while they are in our care and are sad to see them leave when the time comes. We do all possible to help prepare them for their next steps and we are happy to offer any advice or support if parents/carers have any concerns.

If you have any concerns please do speak with your child’s key worker or ask one of the management team.

*Cartoon images used in this blog designed by freepik.com*

*Always closely supervise young children with small toys or objects that could present a choke hazard.

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