Before your child starts primary school, we share our observations and assessments with your child’s new teacher so that they can continue where we left off. If your child is able to recognise the letters of their name by the time they leave Little Houghton Day Nursery, then we pass this information on to your child’s new school and the teacher of your child’s new class will continue to build on this skill until they are eventually reading and writing. Similarly, if your child is starting to spot patterns in numbers (five fingers on each hand = 10 fingers altogether), your child’s new teacher will work on this until he or she is able to do their five times table.
There are, however, three key skills that we aim to teach all our children, regardless of their ability. To a greater or lesser degree, we hope that everyone begins primary school with some understanding of these ideals.
1. Go to the toilet independently (and wash their hands afterwards)
Teachers in primary school will largely expect children to be able to use the bathroom on their own. If they are physically able, we start to promote independent toileting from a young age.
Periodically throughout the day, we take the children in a group to the bathroom and encourage them to enter the cubicles independently and wash their hands afterwards. In between times, the children give signals (verbal or otherwise!) that they need to use the toilet, and they are supported throughout the process.
Very young children and those in the process of potty training, also take part in the routine and see their old friends learn the correct order of events. We found this to be a very powerful technique when it comes to teaching children bathroom independence, ahead of leaving for primary school.
In primary school it is perfectly possible for one teacher to have responsibility for up to 30 children. It is physically impossible to manage such a number if the children are unable to consider each other’s needs. Imagine the chaos of 30 pairs of hands all reaching for the same six Lego figures?
At nursery, we use various strategies to teach the importance of sharing; these range from songs and rhymes to group games where children take it in turns. This doesn’t come easy to some children and we need to reinforce the practice time and again.
But we are pleased to say that by the time they leave us, most children are at least beginning to show the social skills necessary for understanding the concept of fairness.
3. Self-serving at meal times
As they prepare to leave our nursery, those who are physically able have probably been serving themselves food & drink for at least two years. At Little Houghton Day Nursery, even children in the baby room are encouraged to self select from serving plates at lunch and snack times. Later, they are supported in pouring their own drinks from a jug and our three and four year olds serve themselves and each other a full range of cooked meals.
Practice makes perfect and if they’ve been doing this for a couple of years before they leave us, most children are fully prepared for school canteens.
You may know eight year olds who are still grappling with these concepts. But after three or four years at nursery, with staff who reinforce these practices over and over again, we know that our children stand a good chance of coping well with their early days in primary school.
Good luck to all our little school leavers!