By Spring Childcare · 09 Jun 2022

School Readiness

As September draws near, it can be a difficult time for those parents whose children will be starting ‘Big School’ – Reception Class. This transition to a new setting can bring a mixture of emotions for everyone involved. Whilst some parents know that their child is ready for the next stage; others may be equally as sad or anxious that their baby is taking this big step and confused over the increasingly popular phrase ‘school readiness’.  Carers can often need support to understand that school readiness is about a lot more than just their child’s reading, writing and mathematical skills, and as skilled childcare practitioners you are well placed to help parents with understanding this and with the transition.  

So, what does ‘school readiness’ mean?

Being school ready means children are starting to: 

  • Sit and listen for a short amount of time. 
  • Be aware of others. 
  • Talk in sentences. 
  • Understand behaviour boundaries and words such as no. 
  • Be able to take their coat off and put easy Velcro shoes on. 
  • Express their toileting needs and to be potty trained (or nearly toilet trained). 
  • Start to recognise their own name, both verbally and in written format. 
  • Communicate their thoughts and feelings to those around them.
  • Feel confident to be with other adults and children without parents. 

In short, children should develop good social and emotional skills, and by possessing these skills appropriate to their age, children will be ready to learn’ and be well equipped to enter reception. Our job in Early Years is to support children in the development of these social and emotional skills amongst others and ensure we are aware that these areas are as vital as mathematical and literacy abilities for the child prior to starting school. Through observations, planning, activities and really knowing the child we can tailor learning experiences to ensure every child has the best opportunity to learn the skills and attitudes necessary to become school ready.  

As briefly mentioned at the beginning, the transition to ‘big school’ can be an anxious time for both parents and children so here are a few ideas on how everyone can help ease the potentially stressful transition for children. 

  • Encourage parents to show their child pictures of their new teacher so that they can recognise some familiar faces when they start. 
  • work with parents on showing children how to ask questions or for help. For some children using phrases or gestures may work, for other using signs or pictures may be more suitable. 
  • encourage parents to talk to their child about the new school routine so they know what to expect. 
  • Get children to try on their school uniform so it feels comfortable and familiar to them  
  • Practice the child’s route to the new setting. Try talking about all the things you see on your way, for instance, “we have to turn left at the red house”…”then past the small bush” etc. 
  • Talk about what is going to happen so that children are expecting it and excited about going to school. This will also help highlight if the children are anxious or have any questions.  
  • Incorporate starting school into play e.g., through making your home corner into a school or having school uniform in a dressing up box.  

Overall, children do not need to read books or be able to recite numbers to 20 to be ‘school ready’, instead, school readiness is more about a child’s ability to be independent and to be ready to learn.