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Is my child ready for school?

June 20, 2019 3:32 pm Published by

Tiny Toes Hertford School readiness image of graduation hatsIt 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 believe their little one might be behind his or her peers if they are not yet able to write their names and that this box needs to be ticked before they start school.

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

Children spend up to 13 years in formal education, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a long time especially when you are young. Although there are certainly some things we would agree a child would need to be capable of by the time they start school, writing their name is not one of them. We do encourage and support any children who demonstrate an interest in letter formation and early writing, but we do not make this mandatory practice for those that are not yet ready or whose interests perhaps lie elsewhere. We do not want to put any pressure on children or to dampen their natural curiosity and love of learning. We encourage literacy and letter recognition through reading, access to books, trips to our local library, songs and rhymes and invitations to play that include letters.

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.

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. We cannot stress enough the importance of reading regularly with your child, it will help 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 just the ingredients, no recipe to follow, and you hadn’t cooked before and didn’t know many of the ingredients. You couldn’t cook the meal, or you could try but would probably end up with a meal that didn’t have 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 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

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.

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 (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.

Here are some ideas to get your child physically ready to writeCollage image of fine motor early writing play at Tiny Toes Hertford

Why not buy plastic tweezers and pom poms and let your child pick up the pom poms with the Tweezers and place them in a small container. 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. Painting with a brush or mark making with pens/pencils or crayons. Stickers are always popular with young children so if you provide your child with sticker sheets to peel and stick them on paper this offers perfect practice for their fine motor skills. All of this said you do not 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? 

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 and master their independence. Key workers and staff are of course on hand to support and model these behaviours until the children feel confident to try on their own. 

Our Preschool room have daily regular ‘circle time’ (adult lead group time) and story time, both of which works on the children’s ability to sit still and listen for short periods of time. We use named placemats and drinking cups to encourage them to recognise their names. We regularly offer mark making opportunities and support children who have an interest in writing letters.  A variety of information books and storybooks are available for children to choose to look at or read with practitioners to help promote literacy skills.

Visit to the library with the Preschool room

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