“With a little forethought and preparation, moving to school will be a happy and successful milestone in your child’s life” Curriculum For Excellence 2010
This guide, by Mariessa Devlin of Enchanted Forest Nursery, will help you support your child on the daunting step up to primary school. However, if your child has been in a childcare setting since they were a few months old, they will have actively (and discreetly) been prepared for school since their early years.
The most important time for children moving to primary school is the ‘pre-school’ year. During this phase, nursery staff take a more focused approach to the learning experiences, whilst still being led by the children’s interests.
While the details of school enrollment programmes are set by local authorities, most are very robust and schools use various methods to engage the child and their family well ahead of the start date.
All children, however, will find starting school easier the more independent they are. Therefore, it’s helpful to do the following:
- Encourage your child to go to the toilet on their own
- Ensure school clothing is easy for your child to manage
- Consider school uniform choices on PE days. If the school has a polo-shirt option, this is great for a PE day until your child can confidently tie their school tie
- Consider your child’s shoe fastenings. If they can’t tie laces, then think about another kind of fastening.
- Consider meal routines at home – sitting for meals, using cutlery – so children transfer these skills to school
- Encourage your child to find and use a tissue for their nose, wash their hands, tidy up, share and take turns.
- Positively discuss school, possibly taking your child to see the building and playground and by acknowledging that they may be feeling a little apprehensive, even if they appear excited about a new uniform or school bag.
Some points to remember:
Primary schools do not expect children to be able to write when they start. It is far more important that they have had plenty of opportunity to build up the control in their hands. When the teacher begins to teach formal handwriting, children with well-developed muscle control will learn to write with ease.
Here’s what you can do:
- Activities involving drawing, painting, colouring and cutting will help co-ordination.
- Construction toys aid dexterity and imagination.
- Card and word games and jigsaws all help with pre-reading skills.
- Exposure to books fosters a life-long love of reading
- It does help if your child can recognise their own name but remember not to write in capitals: For example: Claire not CLAIRE
- Treat it as a natural step in your child’s life.
- Children take their outlook from you so if your experience was not a happy one, your child does not need to know, and theirs will be different.
Starting school is a very exciting time and during the weeks prior to leaving nursery, staff there will be talking about this transition, using role-play to develop familiarity with ‘big’ school and may have arranged visits from reception class teachers and a visit to the school.
Primary 1 teachers are highly trained and, more, importantly understand the importance of their job as they take a child and start them on their journey through school, fostering a love of learning. Although an emotional time for some families, your child will embrace primary school and most children cope very well with their new learning environment.