Starting school is a significant milestone in a child’s life. So what can you do as a parent to help your child prepare? Parents are a child’s first teacher and from when a child is first born parents can have a huge impact on a child’s development. The Flying Start to School poster (see the downloads to the right to view poster) outlines some of the essential skills and experiences a child needs to be exposed to by the age of 5 years old. Click on the tabs below to find out more information and groups that are available in West Berkshire.
“Please do not engage in activities that go against the current government Coronavirus guidance”
Chat and Sign
You can never start too early to chat with your child. Look at our West Berkshire Every Child A Talker website:
“How 'school ready' a child is at age four is strongly predicted by their vocabulary and ability to talk in short sentences at the age of two years”
A child's vocabulary at age five is a predictor of his/her educational success and outcomes at age 30.
For local information on speech and language therapy
How is your child doing – useful resource from the communication trust “Small Talk”
Look at books with your child from birth
Imagination library - https://imaginationlibrary.com/check-availability/ see if you are eligible by postcode. If your child is attending a council maintained nursery or you are a Foster Carer looking after a child aged five years old or younger, then they are also eligible but you will need to contact your local Family Hub or ask your Nursery.
Useful tips to support Reading:
Nursery rhymes are important way of learning language and supports spelling and reading later.
Did you know that it is crucial children have good muscle development in order to be able to learn how to write? Activities to support this are:
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor (strengthens large muscles for large movements) eg. running, hopping, skipping, jumping, throwing, catching. If you are worried about your childs development West Berkshire offer advice and support https://cypf.berkshirehealthcare.nhs.uk/support-and-advice/gross-motor-skills
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor (strengthens small muscles for small movements) eg. threading, cutting with scissors, painting, drawing, play-doh, creating models, engaging in messy activities.
See the below sites for further suggestions:
You can join messy play sessions at your local Family Hub
Encouraging your child to dress independently is another way to help develop fine motor control. Practising fastenings (eg. buttons, zips, buckles, & laces), putting on a coat, shoes and other items of clothing all help to improve self-care and fine motor skills. This can be done when playing dress up as well as in everyday situations. Why not try dressing a teddy or a favourite toy?
Use of Technology –Balance screentime and physical activity
TV – If you choose to watch TV with your child try to watch it together and then turn it off and play a game: https://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/media/2946/raa_raa_top_tips_for_tv.pdf
Balance using technology with being active outdoors:
Did you know that a child needs to develop their listening and rhyming skills before learning letter sounds (phonics) in order to read and write? Try some of the activities on the Letters and Sounds phase 1 tracker and the link below to help prepare your child for reading and writing independently:
Join the Library
The Literacy Trust say that “Children and young people who enjoy reading are five times more likely to read above the level expected for their age compared with their peers who don’t enjoy reading (17.0% vs 3.5%)
Join the library
The only behaviour measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. An analysis of a national data set of nearly 100,000 United States school children found that access to printed materials—and not poverty—is the “critical variable affecting reading acquisition” (McQuillan, 1998)
Using their senses and getting outside
Children learn far more if it is a subject of personal interest and fascination. Try to engage in discussions, explore books and visit places that support your child’s interest.
Local ideas – downloadable document to the right '50 things to do this summer'.
A child needs a healthy body in order to thrive. As a parent you need to ensure your child:
See NHS guidance for babies and toddlers
Sleeps a minimum of 11 hours each night. See below for further information
Can independently go to the toilet and wash their hands. Advice on how to achieve this and age expectations can be found here
Visits the dentist and brushes their teeth correctly. See NHS guidance
Did you know young children experience their world as an environment of relationships, and these relationships affect virtually all aspects of their development? Establishing successful relationships with adults and other children is crucial.
Play gives children a chance to practice different social skills.
Sharing is an important skill. Every child is unique and some children will master this quicker than others.
There are Six stages of Social Development: https://www.handmadeplaces.co.uk/2019/09/the-six-social-stages-of-play/
Taking your child to group play sessions at a Family Hub or sending them to a childminder, pre-school or nursery will also support your child in developing socially
Children who develop warm, positive relationships with other adults and children are more inquisitive, self-confident and positive about starting school
Supporting your child’s well-being:
Helping children recognise and understand their emotions is an important part of supporting their development:
Books can also help children explore and discuss emotions: