School Readiness: Start in the Early Years
Welcome to the second part of our two-part article where we explain the value of nursery and pre-school education as part of the school readiness journey. With over 50 years of combined Early Years professional education, experience and knowledge, we have helped and continue to help many parents navigate the maze of early years care and school readiness preparation.
So when does the school readiness journey really begin?
Children are unique individuals, as each child that walks through the nursery-pre-school doors comes from a unique personal environment. Children join us from birth up to 5 years.
Some children come bouncing with an enquiring excited mind, ready to experience new adventures. However, others can join us when much closer to school entry age. The settling process for a late starter can take up to 3 months before they can feel confident to explore opportunities presented to them. Barriers like language, culture, limited socialization and dealing with unknown environments often extends the settling in period. These barriers can and do have an impact on a child’s readiness for school.
As professional nursery practitioners, we cannot ‘press a button’ on a child to speed up the school readiness preparation process. It all depends on the child’s existing foundation knowledge and opportunities already experienced.
How do nurseries help children to reach this school readiness milestone?
A good nursery should focus on developing a child’s social, cognitive and motor skills through a structured programme of play. At The Tiffin, we follow a philosophy that provides a holistic approach to preparing a child for school readiness. We create a 3 – way community relation between Nursery – Child – Parent.
This relationship creates a strong foundation where all the relationships overlap. The ‘overlap’ is where a child is able to build and form it’s encouraged ‘love of learning’. The support of the nursery, the parent and the carers around a child are able to prepare the base foundations that give children the advantage they need for school readiness.
The Tiffin are very proud to hold excellent reputations for getting children into the schools of their choice because we work through the developing skills necessary for confident school entry.
Children who attend our settings engage in a ‘readiness for school programme’ that uses the British EYFS curriculum as it’s backbone and the excellent skills available in our nursery team in making experiences memorable and long lasting.
We believe that a child’s readiness for school is NOT a journey that starts 6 months before school enrollment, but a journey that starts from birth where the opportunities a child experiences at home and nursery help to build the foundations for cognitive, emotional and social education.
The Tiffin Day Nursery and Pre-school Readiness Programme
When you enroll your child with The Tiffin Day Nursery, UK, in the academic year, before your child is to start school, onto our 5-day nursery-preschool programme, your child will have a greater chance of being school ready. The more exposure your child gets to an early years education, the more advanced your child’s skills will have developed by the time they start the world of school.
The Tiffin Professional Support
Sharing our knowledge with our parent community is something we are used to doing on a daily basis. From the monitoring and assessments made while the children play, we provide a sign-posting and advice service to our parents that helps them succeed in making their preferred school choices an easier journey. We are happy to walk alongside our parents and provide the backbone support they need to make their school choices, taking an active role in being part of the journey.
What are prep and primary schools looking for when assessing children for school readiness?
The school’s selection and acceptance process is a period of high anxiety when parents wait nervously to find out whether their child has been accepted into their school of choice. From a parent’s perspective it can be an anxious process trying to understand what is the mystery formula used by schools for place allocation and child selection.
So how can we make this process less anxious for the child and the parent?
A good quality childcare setting can help to demystify the process for you by working with you and your child so that you understand what are the foundation skills your child needs for school selection.
What makes a child school ready?
As professionals we aim to provide children with ‘learning through play’ opportunities to build the skills necessary to answer the following school ready questions?
- Is a child able to socialise alongside other children and join in activities? Can they play games together?
- Is a child able to self-care and manage their emotions? Can a child manage their anger? Can they go to the toilet independently without support?
- Is a child able to understand basic boundaries – the difference between good behavior and acceptable behaviour?
- Is a child able to understand basic safety – are they able to consider what is around them? Can they walk down stairs with the aid of hand rail. Can they hold the hand of a carer without running off?
- Does a child show independence skills and confidence – Is a child able to wave goodbye without anxiety?
- Is a child able to communicate effectively alongside adults and peers expressing basic needs – Can they communicate “I’m… hungry, thirsty, feeling ill, need the toilet”?
- Is a child able to engage in conversation – Can they talk about their families and things that interest them?
- Is a child able to understand instructions and follow through with appropriate actions – Can they carry out simple tasks – Wash Hands, put shoes on?
- Is a child able to explore the resources around them with interest and intrigue and hold their attention for 10 minutes or more?
- Is a child able to problem solve using their cognitive skills – will they try to connect shapes – make puzzles – take an interest in how things work?
- Is a child able to count – are they able to recognize numbers and count to 10 or more?
- Is a child able to identify the letters of the alphabet and take an interest in books – Can they recognize letters and put them in order and sequence?
- Has a child been exposed to an extensive English vocabulary and can they understand and use language effectively – Do they enjoy re-telling stories? Can they name under water sea animals? Can they name a planet in space? Can they name jungle animals?
- Does a child understand the role of people around them? Do they understand the role of a doctor, a nurse, a teacher a fireman? Do they understand how things grow?
Through the use of the British EYFS curriculum and trained professional educators – we monitor a child’s progress against all these questions, creating learning through play opportunities for a child to succeed in building skills. As such, we are able to measure a child’s progress against set, age appropriate, milestones.
A nursery educator’s role is a complex one and with our professional experience, we are able to identify support needs early, providing the intervention required to build the necessary skills.
What impacts a child’s readiness for school?
A child’s readiness depends on many factors; age, family environment, culture and the formal early years care they receive.
Your child may not have some of the skill needs listed earlier but a child is always learning and growing and some of these skills will be enhanced and developed over time as they grow.
What makes a good nursery- preschool programme?
A good quality preschool experience is always about making the children’s experiences of the early years a joyful, fun and memorable experience, where what they learn through experience is archived. This experience provides a child with a ‘love of learning’ without them knowing they are learning – for them they are having fun and choosing what they want to enjoy. This approach builds invisible skills that strengthens who they become in later life.
There is strong evidence to suggest that children who attend good quality, structured childcare settings have an increased chance of settling well into school life, equipped with the social and emotional skills necessary to be ‘school ready’.
When early year’s educators are given sufficient time to impart knowledge, they are able to support and nurture bright confident and independent children.
- The more knowledge we share with a child, the more they grow.
- The more experiences we share with a child, the more they learn.
- The more a child ‘learns through play’, the more they cement a ‘Love of Learning’.
It is also important that we work closely with parents and carers to ensure that what is being taught at nursery is being supported and echoed at home. This level of continuity will ensure that children have a solid foundation on which to build their skills, giving them the best possible chance of being ready for school when the time comes.