Ashford Prep School – The Pre-Prep Team
How can parents best support their child as they start in Reception?
Be positive as this is an exciting time. Don’t make school a big deal as this can make children more fearful of their transition. Try not to show your own anxiety or upset about your child starting school.
On the practical side, practise zips, getting dressed and undressed, putting on coats, shoes, wellies and ensure children are toilet trained.
Prepare them for learning by reading lots of stories and talking about the characters, storylines and make predictions. Build mathematical language into everyday play routines, such as counting out the correct number of knives and forks at the dinner table.
Ensure they get plenty of rest with a calm bedtime routine at a sensible time and don’t sign them up for lots of after school activities in the first term.
What signs should parents look out for that their child is not happy at school?
If they seem unusually withdrawn or there is a clear lack of friendships. Also if they start complaining of feeling unwell when they appear to be fine or are tearful for no clear reason.
What should parents do if they think their child isn’t flourishing at school?
Discuss with your child about how they might be feeling, then make an appointment to see the class teacher to discuss concerns further. Don’t try and speak to them at the beginning or end of the day as this can be the busiest time.
Explain to the class teacher what the purpose of the appointment is so that they can prepare in advance. Ask what can be done at home to help and get feedback from the teacher on any areas where a child might be struggling.
Is there anything parents do with good intentions, which is actually unhelpful?
Some parents feel they are being helpful carrying their child into school with all of their belongings, but this encourages parental reliance. It’s better to encourage the child to be independent, hanging up their own coat etc.
It’s also tempting for parents to dress their child for speed in the mornings, but it’s really helpful if they can allow the child to learn how to do it themselves, so they can change unaided for PE.
It’s also helpful if the child can prepare their own school bag. This will train them to be more organised and feel in control of their own routine.
Lingering in the classroom after drop off can destabilise their own child’s emotions and be unsettling for other class members. It also makes it difficult for the teacher to start the day with their class routine.
We delight in children’s mark making and attempt to build on these skills in school, but please be aware that a child learning at home to write only in capital letters is a difficult habit to break and makes handwriting more difficult.
Ashford School, Ashford, Kent
01233 625171 ashfordschool.co.uk
Reigate St Mary’s – Sam Selkirk, Head of Lower School
Fostering independence is one of the best ways you can help your child to get ready for school. This can be done at home by encouraging them to dress themselves in the morning, cut their own food at mealtimes and have a go at tasks such as pouring a drink.
These small things start the process of building their confidence and self-esteem. In addition, providing opportunities for them to explore their world and play independently are essential whilst motivating them to ‘have a go’, persevere, think and solve problems. These are all an essential part of learning how to learn.
One of the biggest indicators that a child is not happy would be a change in their behaviour, perhaps becoming slightly more subdued or restless but it could present in a plethora of ways.
However, at Reception age it is often tricky to identify the root cause of any change in behaviour. Questioning a child can result in them answering in a way they perceive we want them to.
A close relationship with a child’s class teacher is key in these situations and if parents are concerned, it is important that they are able to engage in an open, solutions-focused dialogue with the school.
If parents think their child isn’t flourishing they should observe and monitor their child with the aim of identifying specific areas of concern and then arrange a meeting with their child’s class teacher (or GP if relevant) to discuss. Working collaboratively with a cohesive approach will ensure better outcomes for their child.
However, young children do develop at very different rates so parents should try not to be too unduly concerned.
Parents’ lives are very busy and sometimes they are tempted to do things for their child to speed up the process. The more time we afford children in their younger years to develop their independence, the less time will be needed to help them to complete tasks in the future.
Reigate St Mary’s, Reigate, Surrey
01737 244880 reigatestmarys.org
Dulwich Prep Cranbrook – Clare Mackie, Head of Little Stream (Years 1-4)
To help to prepare your child for school, here are a few simple and supportive things that you can do as parents:
Parents can support their child by thinking positively. Change can be rather daunting, but by focusing on the positive elements, your child can be encouraged to look forward to all of the new and exciting opportunities ahead. School is one big fun adventure so what is there not to look forward to?
If your child is able to dress, undress and toilet independently, and find and organise their belongings, this will aid their transition to school beautifully, making everyone’s lives easier.
We all want our children to succeed and thrive in life so it is important to encourage your child to have a go at new activities and challenges so that they are regularly pushing their own personal boundaries.
If they do not initially succeed, praise them for their efforts and support them by encouraging them to have another go. Resilience and the ability to ‘bounce back’ is a necessary life skill so that our children learn not give up at the first hurdle when they find things tricky.
No matter how big or small, it’s really important to acknowledge and celebrate your child’s successes. When praising them, remember to focus on the process rather than the end product or result. For example, you can praise their hard work, focus or determination rather than the result from a spelling test.
Dulwich Prep Cranbrook, Kent
01580 712179 dulwichprepcranbrook.org
Dulwich Prep Cranbrook
Early years at Ashford
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