Barbara Hollis, Area Manager South East Hampshire Health Visiting Team said:
“Being ready for school means being able to deal with the challenges of education, be that socially, emotionally and cognitively. This means they are able to do things such as recognise numbers and quantities in everyday environments, they are able to sit, listen and play as well as take turns and socialise with peers. Children starting school should be able to eat, dress and go to the toilet independently along with communicating their needs through a good vocabulary.”
Helping your child to be school ready is something that all parents can do, and often simple changes to routine can ensure a child’s readiness whilst also boosting self-esteem and confidence.
- Encourage healthy foods and independence at meal times
Giving your child the opportunity to try new and healthy foods will help them when it comes to meal times in the school day. Fine coordination is really important for school readiness. Encourage your child to use a knife, fork and spoon when eating meals and ensure they are comfortable eating their food at a table. This will mean that they are happier and more open minded when faced with new experiences at school.
- Improve your child’s independence
Children who are better able to care for themselves are more likely to have a positive experience when they start school. This includes being able to go to the toilet independently, pulling down and up their own underwear. Good oral health and up to date immunisations will also ensure that your child’s routine is less disrupted. Practicing at home and encouraging your child to do these things for themselves will help build their confidence.
Improve your child’s awareness of hygiene
Teach your children the importance of washing their hands, especially before they eat and after going to the toilet. Not only will this endorse good hygiene for your child’s benefit, but this will also help to reduce the spread of infection. This is a simple tip which you can involve in your daily routine, ensuring your child knows when washing hands is appropriate and the importance of general hygiene.
- Practice dressing and undressing
Giving your child the opportunity to practice dressing and undressing will allow them to understand the routine of school life. Play times and PE can be daunting activities if your child is unsure of how to undress themselves and put the appropriate clothes on again. Practising this at home will give them the confidence when faced with these tasks at school and allow them to act independently.
- Rehearse the school walk together
Practising the school walk together will not only allow your child to get a sense of location of their new school, but this will allow give them the opportunity to learn some essential road safety rules in preparation for school outings and trips. This will also encourage physical activity which is a key component of brain development and it also helps develop coordination and manipulation skills. On top of all of that, it is a fantastic way to get the whole family active and excited about joining school!
By the age of five, a child’s brain forms as many as 700 neural connections per second. Ensuring your child is able to thrive in their first years at school will have a positive effect on each subsequent year as they develop. In fact, research shows that for every £1 spent on improving education in early years, £7 needs to be spent to have the same impact in later years.
If your child struggles with any of the above there is still plenty of time to practice and improve their confidence. If you are worried you can see your GP or contact your health visitor who can give advice and guidance to boost your child’s readiness.
For more information on school readiness and how to prepare your child you can attend a number of our health visitor clinics. Our School Nurses will also be attending some of these in the run up to September.