The way we prepare our children for school is a little bit different every year. Every year brings a new cohort of children, each of them unique in their likes and their approach to play, which presents different opportunities for us to celebrate this. We have illustrated our approach below, using the EYFS as the framework to guide you through.
Personal Social and Emotional Development
- To be comfortable with the Daily Routines; we have established patterns during the day for our routines, allowing the children to play their part and gain satisfaction from being involved, whether that is contributing during our short circle times, helping set the table for lunch or changing into their new school uniforms in the role play area.
-Boosting confidence through making choices; throughout their day children are encouraged to choose their own experiences, some of these decisions can be made when free flowing between the room and the garden, picking what activities they would like on the table or opting to tidy an activity to begin a new one. At Forest School the children can choose to build dens with friends, go bug hunting or get messy in the mud pit.
-Playground games; we encourage the children to play "traditional" games like "What's the time Mr Wolf?" "Hide and Seek" and "Bug in a Rug" This allows your little one to understand rules and boundaries and begins to encourage them to create their own rules to their own games.
-Golden Rules and understanding feelings; throughout the day we will talk to your child and their friends about our "Golden Rules" and our feelings. These conversations allow them to develop an understanding of their own emotions, as well as others. By talking to your child about these rules, we can empower your child to be confident when talking about their own likes and dislikes, especially when navigating through disagreements amongst their peers.
- Supporting them in a sense of wonder; children are ready to be thrilled and enchanted, especially in the outdoors. We support them by harnessing that awe and wonder. We have fun with them, we splash in muddy puddles, and we act as excited as them when they spot a rainbow or see baby lambs in the fields. We also support this in the classroom by conducting experiments with them, seeing things change and talking about what we have seen!
Communication and Language
- Plan interesting and meaningful experiences for the children with open-ended questioning that invites children to elaborate so they develop strong expressive language and confidence in conversing.
- Singing - Nursery Rhymes and songs are a great way to develop listening and build language. Sometimes the children like to host a "concert" where they sing songs to one another, creating music through different materials and instruments is a fun a way to build on their confidence too!
- Encouraging the children to be able to dress themselves - preparing for Forest School or
getting dressed to go to the garden is a great way for your little one to develop their self-care skills. Showing them how to do their own zippers, putting their own coats
and waterproofs on or changing clothing when they are dirty after getting muddy is a great way to boost their independence.
- Encouraging them to stay dry and clean during the day, including being independent in their toileting.
- Talking about healthy foods and lifestyle choices - role playing in our mud kitchen and role play area is a great way to talk about food, our likes, and dislikes and how these foods might make us feel and the affects it may have on our bodies.
- Fine motor skills to build strength in the children's fingers which will help with writing - we encourage children to explore with sensory play such as playdough to develop strength in their fingers and using the peg and lacing board. At Forest School we provide opportunities for the children to use different types of tools. We use tools like palm drills to create holes in wooden disks and hammering golf teas into soft surfaces. All these different activities help to fine tune their fine motor skills, but it also develops their hand eye co-ordination.
Fostering a love for books and stories through daily shared reading experiences, helping the children to be motivated and engaged readers. One of the most important things you can do at home is read to your child daily.
- We help the children to develop a phonological awareness through tuning into sounds in their environment, recognise rhyme, identifying symbols and segmenting words.
-At Barnkids Nurseries we follow Letters and Sounds, which acts as a foundation for many of the existing phonics schemes that schools use.
- We always offer lots of opportunities for mark making, both inside and outside. We use trees as art easels and mud for making marks in. We have wooden discs and sometimes we tape massive pieces of material and paper to the floor, some of our reluctant mark makers like making marks lying down. Development is not linear in children and some may be ready to extend their phonics sooner than others. For phonics to be taught effectively a child must be secure with speaking, responding, listening and have an ability to tune in.
Phonics activities help the development of many of these skills, so although the child might not be learning specific phonics skills from these activities there is still value in them taking part and joining in if they are interested and having fun
- Integrate simple counting games and number recognition into their day-to-day routine for example counting how many steps we take to get down the stairs at Forest School or counting
how many children are in for the day. Garden games and team building activities can encourage children to use numbers in their play and enable them to understand that number represents quantity.
- Counting votes on a story - by voting on a book and counting which one has the biggest number allows the children to further enhance their understanding of quantity.
- Setting up tabletop games that include shape and space for example puzzles during quiet play.
- Encouraging shape recognition in the environment inside and outside too.
- Loose parts play encourages the children to explore shapes, space, and measure when they are categorising, sorting, and creating shapes in their imaginative play. It supports their ability to subitise to three and gain an understanding of cardinality when counting.
Understanding the World
- We have started to have more focus in circle time, discussing "understanding the world" topics. We use this time to talk about different families, different job roles, where people come from and more.
- Our team talk to the children about School and there are books available about Starting School in our reading area. Next term we will also have books that we have made ourselves that have pictures of the schools, teachers, and children of the schools our children are going to, as well as uniform in our dressing up box!
Expressive Art and Design
- Dancing to music is a great way to move and explore their movement to sound. We host dance parties both indoors and outside which is a great way to get the children to create different dance moves.
- Story Stones - This activity is a great way to encourage imagination and allows the children to create their own story. Writing it down and retelling the story brings a lot of joy and confidence when making a story during their play.
- Using Forest School as our "Science Lab" experimenting what happens when you mix different materials together and talking about our findings allows the children to extend their own knowledge and talk about what they have seen and learnt!
- Loose Parts Play - Loose parts allows the children to get creative with a variety of materials. Using a mixture of materials like acorns, leaves, bamboo rings, wooden disks and more allows your child to become more creative when making pictures and more. Creating faces, objects, buildings, soups, and other fun things provides children the freedom to create whatever they please. Different creations and sharing them with one another and accepting other ideas are a great way to prepare for school.
What can you do?
As daunting as it may seem to be sending your little one off to "big school" there are several things that you can do to support a smooth transition.
-Read to your child daily.
-Support their independence through encouraging them to dress themselves, put on their own shoes, use their knife and fork and independently using the toilet.
-Follow your child's lead when talking about school so they do not feel overwhelmed, but rather enjoy their last few months at nursery and look forward to their new adventure.
Most of all, don't worry!! Everyone is different.
And if you are worried.... come and talk to us!