Starting full time education can be daunting for parents and children, even in ‘normal’ circumstances. However, this year there is the added uncertainty and anxiety brought about by Covid-19.
It is likely that the start of school is staggered. This will give time for children to settle, especially if children have never attended a pre-school or nursery. Normally, children have home visits from their teachers, or trips to school to help them to settle in and to meet their new classmates. However, in most cases, this has not been possible this year. Many parents will be rightly anxious about whether their child will struggle with the transition.
How can we best prepare our child for the change of routine with going to school?
Familiarity is an important part of getting children ready. This may be as simple as showing them their uniform and trying it on. It may be possible to show them pictures from the school’s website to help them become familiar with the school. Parents will receive information from the school about start times and what to expect at the beginning of September.
Reception is an exciting place to learn. On starting school, children will be introduced to rules and routines that they will need to follow. They will possibly take part in helping to create class rules. This will enable them to understand the reasons for safety, give them confidence and help them to begin to understand responsibility. They will learn that it is everybody’s duty to make sure that the school is a safe place for them to learn.
It is always important to recognise the routines that children will be expected to learn at school. For some children, being at home may mean they haven’t had as much opportunities to develop their independence skills. Parents can use the summer break to try to build these into a routine so that children do not struggle when they return. For example, parents can write out a name label so that children recognise their own names. Parents can encourage children to learn to practise wearing their uniform. Make this fun and into a game – avoid pressuring or showing that you are frustrated. With practice comes perfection. Furthermore, parents can keep a check on whether their child can toilet independently and knows the importance of hand washing. During meal time, children can be encouraged to become independent eaters, while using cutlery. These daily routines can make the transition to the early years a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Our son won’t know anyone in his new school, we’re worried this might be intimidating for him, especially if classmates already have their own friendship groups from nursery/pre-school together?
Early Years staff are very experienced and will ensure that children are made to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Not all children will have attended the same pre-school or nursery. A lot of the learning, particularly in the first few weeks, will be about getting to know each other and making friends. Children will have plenty of opportunities to learn through playing and exploring together. During their time in early years they will take part in activities that will help develop their social and emotional skills. Prepare your child for the start of school as suggested in the section above,
‘How can we best prepare our child for the change of routine with going to school?’
Due to the lack of home visits this year, it may be a good idea for a child to take something in from home to share with the class. This may help a child to create a link between school and home, which has been missing this year.
Will our child still get the same nurture and care with the current Covid-19 guidelines in place or will there be a reliance on them to be more independent?
Early years staff will very quickly get to know your child. Children in Early Years will be taught in line with the statutory framework for Early Years Foundation Stage. A large part of the learning will focus on children’s personal, social and emotional needs. However, the safety of children remains a priority. Early years staff routinely, often daily, review and evaluate potential risks. For example, this could be risks relations to using classroom equipment or to support children who have medical or additional needs.
The current Government guidance for primary schools is for children to be grouped into bubbles which are then kept separate from other groups in the school. It is up to individual schools to decide the appropriate size of the group, but a normal class size (i.e. 30 children) is most likely.
All schools will be following strict government advice and guidelines to protect and a keep children and staff safe. All schools will follow strict measures if a pupil or adult is ill and they display symptoms similar to covid-19. They will share information promptly through the NHS test and trace service.
The school will have completed thorough risk assessments relating to Covid-19. The school will inform parents about the risk assessments that they have carried out.
What are the best ways to encourage a child to stay engaged in their school work/homework and not lose focus by the fun distractions in their environment, to ensure they can reach their full potential?
Parents play an important part in their child’s learning. There will be many opportunities for parents to get involved in school life. There will be guidance on how the school teaches reading, writing and number and how parents can support their children at home. Parents may want to check what phonics scheme and story books the school will use. This can help with familiarising children with these before September. Throughout the school year, there will be opportunities for parents to share what their child can do and activities they have complete or taken an interest in while at home. In some schools parents can share this information with early years staff through an online secure school system or directly with the school. There will be many activities that parents can do with their children, particularly around reading. Showing an interest in what your child is learning in class will keep them engaged and on task.
How is learning different in Nursery and Reception?
All early years settings follow the government’s Early Years Foundation Stage. This sets out the learning standards, development and care of children from birth to 5 years. If your child has attended nursery, then staff will pass on the information they have gathered about your child’s learning and development. to date and teachers plan from there. They also observe the children closely as they begin their time in school, to see what skills they are managing independently. As the year progresses, the balance of time tends to shift to more formal teaching styles, as the children’s ability to listen and concentrate develops. There is still much time devoted to learning through independent exploration, especially in the early days of school life.
What if my child has an accident? (toilet related)
Accidents are quite common. Most schools have a stock of spare underwear and uniform to deal with these situations. If necessary, you may receive a call from school asking you to come in to bring clean clothes.