- Posted by Kelly Weekes
- On April 17, 2019
Your child is starting school. It’s a big deal. Whether they have been at Nursery or not, starting big school somehow feels profoundly different – and it is. Your child will become part of a much larger community than they ever have been part of before. It’s a crucial aspect of their growing independence. As a mother, teacher and someone who has worked with many schools Charlotte Raby has thought about what makes a difference for children when they start school, and the best things you can do to help your child might surprise you.
Reading is a big priority in the first years at school. In the UK every teacher in Reception teaches the children in their class to read using a systematic synthetic phonics programme, they will have been trained to do this and will explain which programme they use to you. Here are some things you can do to help your child get ready to learn to read:
- Help your child recognise their name, so they can find their peg and tray.
- Play games with your child that encourage them to enjoy words and hear the sounds in words. Play I-spy but using the sound of the word rather than the letter name: I-spy something beginning with sss not S.
- Play guessing games that link their knowledge with words e.g. what am I? I live on a farm, I go moo and I begin with ‘c’
- Sing or chant Nursery Rhymes
- Share a book with your child and let them take the lead. Talking together about the things that catch your children’s eye and spark their imagination both reinforces the purpose of a book (enjoyment, developing curiosity) and language development. Research shows that talk with adults and children sharing a book has greater impact on a child’s vocabulary growth than normal household talk.
Learning to write is a whole-body experience: we use our core muscles when we are sitting and arm and back muscles to hold a pencil!
- Give your child the muscles they need – ensure you do lots of climbing, jumping, balancing and other gross motor activities.
- Help your child engage their core so they have strong muscles to sit.
- Play clapping games, action games and dance to make sure your children have strong arm muscles too. The actions for Nursery Rhymes are ideal at strengthen the muscles needed to write.
Help your child be independent. A great deal of time in Reception is spent learning to follow routines, understanding the school community rules and increasing self-regulation.
- Ask your child to do simple tasks for you. Give them clear short instructions. Build up and see if they can follow instructions with more than one step. Do this slowly and make it fun.
- Teach your child to put on shoes, do up their zip and go to the loo. Practise putting on and taking off the school uniform. Your teacher will thank you and your child will grow in confidence.
- Talk about how to recognise their feelings and how to regulate their responses. Discuss what they could do if they feel embarrassed, cross or worried and make sure they know who to talk to about these feelings.
Finally, enjoy the introductory activities that the school puts on to welcome your child. Make time to go to the stay and play, story-times or morning sessions. Each of these help you and your child feel confident and excited about the year ahead.