1 year ago

Education | ED03 | Summer 2016

A Wealden Times Magazine

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Sponsored by Tunbridge Wells Smoothing the move from nursery to reception Starting ‘real’ school is always a big step in growing up. Luckily, these days it’s almost always an easy one, says Hilary Wilce Credit: Dulwich Prep Thanks to improved communications between nursery and reception classes, good preparation work by staff on both sides, and progressive programmes of tours and visits, most children have a clear idea about what they are moving on to and make the transition from nursery to reception class smoothly and easily. They’ve often met their new teacher, spent time in their new classroom and seen where they will hang their coat and eat their lunch long before the day arrives when they actually start school. In addition, children in state schools continue within exactly the same educational framework that regulated their pre-school life. Independent schools have more freedom to choose their curriculum, but most teachers and schools now agree broadly on what makes a good education for the underfives, so they are unlikely to spring any big surprises on their youngest pupils. In fact it can often be the parents who are most traumatised! How is it possible, they think, that the newborn baby they held in their arms just a minute ago, is now a fully fledged schoolchild? Sometimes it can feel far too much like a chilly harbinger of all the separations that are to come. Other problems can arise when a child, although looking forward to their new school, hates the thought of leaving a much-loved nursery and its familiar staff. If that’s the case with your child, help foster a happy leave-taking of the pre-school years by encouraging them to start making a memory book, including photographs of friends and staff who matter to them, and always reassure them they will still be able to see their old friends and visit their old nursery if they want to. At the same time, start talking early about the new school that lies ahead. Be matter-of-fact, calm and positive about this so that your child feels it’s a normal step and something to be looked forward to. Be sure to hide any anxieties that you might have, and don’t ever say anything – however jokingly – that could make your child feel guilty about going. Children are incredibly sensitive to their parents’ moods, and quickly pick up on feelings like sadness and loss. Mopping your eyes with a tissue while sniffing, “Whatever is Mummy going to do without her little Pudsy- Wudsy to keep her company?” will not help your child voyage off to their new school with a glad heart and resolute step! On the other hand, don’t go too hard the other way and big up school as if it’s a technicolour combination of Disney World and non-stop CBeebies. If it isn’t, your child could feel that it’s somehow their fault that they aren’t enjoying it as they are supposed to. On a practical level, make sure your child’s skills are firmly in place. Can they go to the toilet by themselves, manage their clothes and wash their hands? Can they put on their own shoes and socks? Hang up their coat? Eat with a knife and fork? And when it comes to social skills, do they understand when to speak and when to listen when having a conversation? Do they feel comfortable around a range of different adults? Can they share and take turns easily? And do they help to tidy up and put things away? In fact, it’s always worth doublechecking these things, especially if you’ve had to spend time away at work and haven’t been around to see how things are going at home. I’ve heard reception class teachers complain 10

Not too big Not too small Just right. The perfect-size school for delivering a high quality education, with a truly individual focus. 'An exceptionally friendly school where everyone is quickly made to feel part of the community' The Good Schools Guide 'Staff in the Early Years Foundation Stage have high expectations and are extremely knowledgeable about how young children learn' Independent Schools Inspectorate, June 2015 'They work around my son, rather than my son being made to work around the school' Parent 'Key factors supporting high achievement are the broad curriculum, excellent teaching and the pupils’ outstanding attitudes towards their learning’ Independent Schools Inspectorate, June 2015 MARLBOROUGH HOUSE SCHOOL Hawkhurst, Cranbrook, Kent TN18 4PY 01580 753555