Thursday, 5 June 2014

Reflective: Getting 'school' ready

School readiness means different things to different people.  There is an overall argument for what a Nursery ought to do for children to prepare them for the 'rigours' of school.  Being a teacher in a school Nursery I have heard much criticism regarding focused/work sheet based learning and how many in the private or voluntary sector believe this is our main form of learning. This argument flared up again when schools were given the opportunities to have 2 year old provisions.

We don't and never would give children work sheets. We don't even have that many chairs! Our setting (much like our two year old provision will be) is all about free, child initiated play. There are more focused moments but these are limited to small pockets in the day where children cluster together in their key worker groups to hear stories or sing songs, etc.

Our ethos is very much 'putting the child first' and building up what that child needs, around that child.  So in preparation for school we strive to ensure they have a good foundation of the prime areas.

* Children should leave the Nursery being able to play operatively with other children, seeking them out and sharing experiences.
* Children should be able to make friends or maintain friendships.
* Children should have the confidence to try new experiences in a safe environment.
* Children should be able to move in a variety of ways suited to their body type and have good fine motor control over small small tools
* Child should be able to toilet, wash and feed themselves independently.
* Children should talk, listen and take account of what others are saying.
* Children should have clear speech in home language or English.

The purpose of the prime areas is to create this foundation for all other learning to follow and there is a time limit because past 7 it is hard for them to learn these.

Once our children make good progress within these skills we begin to move them onto the specific areas.

* Holding a pencil to make marks.
* Counting aloud to 20 and objects to 20.
* Breaking down words to hear the sounds within.

These are the skills often associated with being 'school ready' and are favoured by many parents whilst forgetting about the prime areas/basics of being a child.

We need to work hard in September to help our parents understand what the prime areas are and why they are important because all too often children come to our setting knowing, "their colours, how to write their name, how to count to 20, how to use the iphone."
But some of these children don't have any speech, or have very poor confidence.  Parents don't always appreciate the things children need before they are able to be 'academic.'

In our setting we have to strike a balance between giving them what they need in the prime areas and encouraging them in the specific and choosing the right time.  Sometimes it is a hard act and we do get it wrong sometimes.

How do you get your children school ready?

(I will be posting on effective transition in a few weeks, watch this space.)

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