We often hear the term ‘school readiness’, but it generally relates to a child who is about to enter the primary school system. Whilst this concept is of optimum importance and should be embraced by parents with older children, this term is not often applied to younger children who are about to go into childcare for the first time.
Being ready for early school isn’t about ticking things off a checklist. It’s not about making sure your child knows the alphabet or ensuring they can identify different colours. Instead, preparing a child for early school consists of building self-confidence and generating optimism in regard to the home: care transition and a higher level of independence.
There are many things that parents and families can do to prepare toddlers and young children for starting early school. Positive experiences and interactions will help them enormously when the time comes to making this transition. Let’s look at some of the practical ways that you can ease the transition and prepare your child for early school.
Establish consistent routines at home
Routines provide important frameworks for creative learning and for development. A child may have difficulty adjusting to the change if they aren’t used to following routines and structure at home. By establishing consistent daily schedules, such as a bedtime routine which involves set activities like cleaning teeth, putting toys away, story time and lights out at the same time each night, parents can help kids learn about the concept of time, order and sequencing.
The gift of reading and language
Making books and stories readily available to children and encouraging wilful engagement in story time at home will help to expand a child’s vocabulary, will stimulate their imaginations and foster a love of reading. It can also be very helpful to read books to your child about early school (ask your local library for suggestions) to prompt any necessary conversations about feelings and possible anxieties your child may have about the transition.
Use pretend play
A child’s ability to positively interact with others can have a significant impact on how well they cope with school. Pretend play provides a vehicle for social and communication skill development. It can also be an excellent way of preparing them for the transition to early school. Fantasy play, in which a parent assumes the role of teacher and daily school scenarios are acted out can be hugely beneficial. An example of this type of interaction is would be practicing saying goodbye at the gate before school starts, sharing crayons or toys with another child or reading a book together. These types of role play scenarios help to settle in to the idea of being separated and to an early school environment.
Keep control of your own emotions
Sending a child to an early learning centre is a milestone for both the child and the family, but it is important to keep any anxieties that you may have private. Children are very perceptive, so don’t let the child know if you are feeling emotional or anxious as this may affect their own confidence. They need to know that you feel good about them going to school.
Take advantage of any orientation opportunities at the new school
Orientation sessions give children an opportunity to explore their new surroundings and familiarise themselves with the physical space and the general environment.
If you’ve chosen a school that adopts a Reggio Emilia approach, then you can feel secure in the knowledge that the childcare centre will provide a ‘home away from home’ for your child. Nido Early School have adapted this world-renowned approach to suit Australian environments and offer beautiful, stimulating learning spaces, a network of dedicated, qualified educators and meaningful learning experiences.
Nido Early School also believe that families and the community are fundamental to the child’s development. They are focused on cultivating young minds and a love of learning through their inclusive, village-style approach that engages child, parent, community and natural environment as essential to the learning process. As a parent, you’ll be encouraged to take an active role in your child’s education and will be more than welcome to take part in learning activities.
To find your nearest Nido Early School centre or to learn more about this world-class early education approach, please visit nidoearlyschool.com.au.