Getting ready for school

As parents we all worry about the best ways to help get our children prepared for school. But when it comes to primary school readiness, it’s not so much the academic side of things that we as parents should be focusing on but instead it’s our responsibility to help our little one’s perfect their social skills and emotional competence, along with ensuring they know the routines and rules associated with starting at big boy or big girl school. At Puddleducks Preschool, we also see our role as helping your children make that big step.

Reading in the playhouse
Play doh is great for fine motor skills

What will help prepare your child for school

It’s the simple things that we recommend and it’s the simple things we try to teach at Puddleducks Preschool. If they’re able to follow a routine, share and take turns, interact positively with their peers, sit and listen during group time, and complete table-top activities for short periods of time; they’ll find adjusting to a more structured school environment much easier to grasp. Which in turn will help their teacher and them be able to focus more on their learning and development.

Visiting Mulbarton Primary School

All our children who attend Puddleducks will have had the opportunity to visit Mulbarton Primary school, having the chance to see where they’ll be spending their time and where they’ll be playing with their friends old and new. The great thing about Reception is that even though a new environment, it’s all about transition to learning through a comfortable and fun setting; learning through play and developing their social skills getting ready for moving up to year one, where class time is more structured.

Arrange play dates with friends

With the summer holidays upon us, take the opportunity to arrange play dates with children who will be in their class when they start at school. When children have other familiar children to play with, this can help make adjusting to the social aspects of school easier. Supportive relationships with other families and children can take time to develop, but they can be worth the effort in the long term.

Enjoy more books together

Talking about school in a positive and cheerful way will always be a massive help. Books are a great way for your child to become familiar with the idea of school and there are lots of options out there, but all books are great when it comes to getting ready for the concept of learning to read. We have our own library for the children included as part of our setting and every day have dedicated story times as well as the opportunity for children to sit with their keyworkers or their friends and look through story books and fact books. We often find that some of our children are more receptive to fact-based books such as books on dinosaurs or animals rather than actual stories.

Encourage positive and polite behaviour

Children need to be able to do what the teacher asks, follow rules, and interact appropriately with both adults and other children. One of the most effective ways to encourage this kind of positive behaviour is by rewarding it. We’re big on sticker rewards and giving specific praise, for example “great taking turns!”; we show affection and positive emotions, for example, big smiles, hugs or high fives.

Good bedtime and morning routines

Encourage good sleep and wake up routines if your child hasn’t regularly attended childcare before. A good morning routine when they’ve had a good night of sleep will help them (and you) speed up the morning process of breakfast, getting dressed and brushing their teeth without a massive rush at the last minute to do so. A situation where everyone could end up feeling a little stressed. We’ve all been there! A full night of sleep will massively help their behaviour and their concentration. When they start school their routine continues much the same as it does at Puddleducks, as they will get used to hanging up their belongings, putting away their lunch boxes (if they’re having a packed lunch) and their drinks bottle as well as starting to write their names to stick on the wall in their class rooms.

Help your child to use the toilet independently

It is really helpful for children to be able to use the toilet independently by the time they start school. Practice using public toilets and explain that at school there are separate toilets for girls and boys. A nice thing about Mulbarton Primary School is that the toilets are actually based in the Reception classrooms, helping avoid accidents and encouraging their independence. At Puddleducks we help them learn practical skills like opening and shutting toilet doors, pulling up pants before leaving the toilet cubicle, and the all-important hand washing. School will encourage parents to teach their child to wipe their own bums, but trust us, this isn’t a must. Teachers in Reception are definitely used to hearing ‘I’m done’ being shouted from the toilets.

Encourage fine motor skills

No-one expects your child to start school being able to write or draw but a proper grasp of a pencil or crayon is a useful early skill. But definitely don’t worry if they’re not interested. Every child will develop at different rates and especially when it comes to the younger children in the year, it’s highly unlikely. There are so many things you can do though to help develop their fine motor skills. Here are some simple ideas. Take a look at things like Pinterest for more inspiration.

  • Play doh is brilliant
  • Skills such as cutting along lines or cutting out shapes
  • Try tweezers to move small objects
  • Or threading beads onto a shoelace
  • Letter tracing or wipe clean books to help with pen control

Encourage them to recognise and write their own first name

One of the first things they’ll learn to do at school is write their name on their work, and being able to spell it is immensely helpful – even if they are not at the point they can write it (or even spell it out-loud properly), getting started will help. We do name recognition every morning through name badges as well as activities throughout the summer term to help them recognise letters.

Most importantly, you know them best

You understand your child best and what works for them, if you are worried about how they will adjust or if there are any special strategies you already use which you could pass on to their teacher you’ll have plenty of opportunities, or if your child attends Puddleducks we’ll always happily include in our reports we conduct which are passed onto your child’s teacher. Please contact us if you feel unsure or are concerned so we can help put your mind at ease.

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