What is School Ready?
When we talk about a child being ‘school ready’ we are not measuring intellectual ability but their social and emotional readiness to embrace school expectations and have the foundations in place to be able to enjoy and understand the next level of learning.
So how can a nursery help?
School can be far more structured than any prior form of childcare. Nursery practitioners can support children to develop independence, resilience and self-confidence which are key in building the foundations for learning. A structured nursery routine enables children to be in control of their own environment and thus feel secure and settled. At Burgess Hill Nursery, for example, all children are responsible for tidying away toys and activities. We find that they are content in the knowledge that they know where the equipment is if they want to continue their play later. A secure routine supports children to understand that equipment and activities will come out again, because that is the routine, thus children feel relaxed and secure in this knowledge and less reticent to tidy up for lunch time or at the end of the day. Supporting children to understand what comes next can be presented in many ways to suit individual needs. We use visual timetables, props and cues such as ‘tidy up music’.
Access To A School Environment
Like many nurseries, we are located on a school campus, in our case Burgess Hill Girls. This can be a huge bonus as it makes it easy to introduce children to the environment and individual spaces they will negotiate at school. At our nursery children visit the school libraries for topic book selection and story times. They also have regular sessions in the hall for games, experiencing its size and ambiance, practising taking shoes and socks off and getting out the P.E mats and small equipment. Experiences like these all help make transition to big school a breeze!
Earlier Professional Input
For children who attend a nursery, pre-school or childminder setting where the Early Years Foundation Stage or similar is implemented, there is ample opportunity for them to learn, grow and thrive. These settings also provide the ideal environment for identifying any potential issues that may take longer to resolve or may require professional input in order for a child to become ‘school ready’. Skilled staff are able to recognise and understand children’s individual learning styles and support each individual to engage in stimulating and fun play activities. This increases the children’s chances of gaining the social and emotional skills which can help them settle quickly into school life.
It goes without saying that the maximum benefit of a nursery is achieved when we can work together with parents. If there is continuity to a child’s home life this will ensure they have a solid foundation on which to build their skills, giving them the best possible chance of being ‘school ready’ when the time comes.
Feedback from our parents and schools we work with suggests that children who attend nursery are far more equipped to deal with the emotional transition to school and are more able to settle down to learning.
“My son has enjoyed every day at nursery over the past year and you have helped to prepare him so well for his next steps.”
“The nursery has made such a huge impact on my daughter, everything she does at home, she includes nursery in her play or discussions (and whether her teachers will approve or not!). We have noticed an increase in her confidence and learning ability and we know that much of that is credit to the time she has spent with you.”
Starting Nursery Before Big School
It is not essential for children to have attended nursery for all of their toddler years. Children often start at our nursery in the year before they start school and there is still plenty of time for them to reap the benefits. If you would like to find out how our nursery can help or would like some general advice on getting your child ‘school ready’ please get in touch!
Suzanne Roberts, Manager, Burgess Hill Nursery