We are very excited to be running a whole day ‘Preparation for Big School’ session every Monday in the Summer Term (Terms 5 & 6), designed specifically for those children leaving pre-school this July to start big school in September 2018.
‘School Readiness’ is very much the focus in education today. This does not necessarily mean being able to count to twenty or knowing all the letters of the alphabet. Rather, it refers to the foundations upon which all learning is based. For example: a child needs to be able to put on their shoes independently, take off their coat and hang it on a peg independently. A child needs to be keen to learn and interested in the world around them, excited by books, games, puzzles etc. Learning should be fun and this is our aim in these sessions.
This is the fourteenth year that we have run these specific sessions and they have become invaluable in the smooth transition to Primary School. They are not just beneficial to the pre-school children: the classes also benefit their parents and the staff in the Early Years Unit as well.
We will be working on some ‘Jolly Phonics’ sounds and basic number work which will be consolidated in the September term at ‘Big School’. We will also be concentrating on holding pencils correctly, name recognition and learning to write their names, as well as being independent and ready for Big School, i.e. putting on their coats and doing up their zips by themselves. We have a range of activities planned to encourage both the gross and the fine motor skill movements that are needed to move forward. We already use these in our Dough Disco and our Funky Fingers sessions, and we will focus on more detailed activities to encourage these skills ready for school.
A couple of years ago we introduced a couple of ‘Gym Days’ which have turned out to be invaluable. We will be asking parents to bring in a named t-shirt, a named pair of shorts and a named pair of trainers for their children on these two dates. It is quite important for your child to be able to undress themselves ready for PE in the allotted time scale and then afterwards dress themselves back in their original clothes! It will be a good thing to practise over the Summer holidays and will make your child’s PE lessons at primary school much more straightforward.
The ‘Jolly Phonics’ are ‘sounds’ as opposed to ‘letters’ and we will be working on learning the following sounds: S, A, T, I, P and N. (i.e. ’S’ is for ‘sun’ or ‘sandal’ and not shoe). It is also important to learn the ‘i’ sound; which is for igloo and ink and not ice cream or island. In these sessions, we like the children to bring in something (a picture or a physical object) for the ‘sound of the day’. For example, the first sound we learn is the S sound, so the children bring in something that starts with that sound, i.e. a snake (a picture or an object). We are focusing more on the sound that the letter makes as opposed to its name. You could even incorporate the sound of the day into your child’s packed lunch, i.e. sausages, sandwiches or salami for the ‘S’ sound, but this isn’t mandatory!
We will also be doing some very early ‘mathematics’. It is important that the children understand the meaning of numbers and are not just able to recite them by rote. You can help with this at home by saying things like: Here are five apples, if I take one away, how many apples are left? Using the apples as visual aids etc. Practising this at home will really help their understanding of numbers. It’s also a good thing to get children to lay the table at home, counting out the knives and forks etc. Counting the stairs as you go up them is also a useful activity. Anything that helps their learning.
We want to make these sessions ‘fun’ so that the children will be encouraged to learn more.