At this time of year we start to hear whispers about children being "school ready" and we can't help but squirm when we do. What do we mean by this?
By "school ready" do we mean children who are excited by the world around them and keen to explore and question? Children with a thirst to discover how, where, why, what and who? Do we mean children who are confident and able to express themselves? Do we mean children who are able to make mistakes and learn from them? Do we mean children who can keep trying when things don't go to plan, trying new and different ways until they achieve their aim?
That's what we mean at Wildlings when we talk about "school ready". Here, we don't increase our "formal" learning time as children approach school age. We continue to give the children what they need at THAT moment in time. We follow THEIR interests and support THEIR learning at THEIR pace. We look for the teachable moments in everything they do to move their learning and skills on, sparked by THEIR chosen activities.
We continue to provide them with a stimulating environment that provides a wide range of learning opportunities for our children and gives them the space to explore. We get excited by the things that excite them, learn alongside them, adapt our teaching to THEIR learning style and support them to make their next steps at the time that is right FOR THEM.
And do you know what? It works! We have built close relationships with the schools that we send our amazing Wildlings to and they all comment on the level of skills and positive attitudes to learning that the children they receive from us have.
Moving on to school feels like a huge milestone, and we know parents will be keen to support their children in the next stage of their learning journey. So, what can you do to help your child be ready?
These are Derbyshire Local Authority’s 10 keys to unlocking school readiness. They have been identified by parents, carers and professionals across the county and give a really clear sense of what is most important to enable children to thrive at school.
The 10 keys for unlocking school readiness are:
I can settle happily without my parent or carer
I can tell friends and grown-ups what I need
I can take turns and share when I am playing
I can go to the toilet on my own and wash my hands
I can put on my own coat and shoes, and feed myself
I can tell a grown up if I am happy, sad or cross
I know that what I do and say can make others happy or unhappy
I am curious and want to learn and play
I can stop what I am doing, listen and follow simple instructions
I enjoy sharing books with grown-ups
There’s a really strong focus on self-awareness, self-care, communication and social skills. The key to developing all of these is the conversations we have with children about themselves and others. As a parent, the most important thing you can do to help your child be ready for school is to spend time talking with them. Help them to identify their feelings as they experience them and to know that it’s ok to feel all of them. Notice the feelings of others and how they express their emotions. Listen to what interests them.
Explore how to find the answers to their questions together. Set some clear routines, so they know when it’s time to follow direction and are able to make transitions from one activity to another. Support them to become independent with self-care such as dressing and toileting by giving encouragement, helping them find ways that work for them to complete the task, breaking things down into smaller steps and most importantly, wherever possible building time for them to try and fail and try again into your daily routines. These are all things that we work on with the children at Wildlings, but you, as parents, are their first and most important teachers.
So Schools.....YOU better get ready for THEM. Because our Wildlings are AMAZING and they are coming for their next adventure very soon! They will be confident, resilient, capable, lovers of learning. Isn't that what it's all about?!