Half of all five year olds not ready for school!
Latest news headlines read that half of five year olds are not ready for school!! Research findings highlight too many children are unable to communicate well or hold a pencil or have not reached a high enough level of intellectual, emotional and physical development to prepare them for school. This is greater in poorer households or in households where parents spend very little time with their children.
So what does school readiness mean?
Children’s early development is measured by their abilities in key areas, including literacy, numeracy and linguistic skills, social and emotional skills and their physical development such as co-ordination and use of writing tools, pencils and crayons. Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director of UCL Institute of Health Equity, said that children’s development was being hindered by a complex combination of poor parenting and poverty. He states that it is unacceptable that only half of our five year olds are achieving a good level of development. Professor Marmot recommends that we need to take real action to improve access to good quality, affordable early years services and good parenting advice. I share Michael Marmot’s concerns that there are too many children under 5 that are not school ready, as being a former Early Years Nursery Head I am passionate to ensure all children have opportunities to reach their full potential.
How to prepare for school
Being ready for school includes children being able to listen to stories; use the toilet independently; being able to dress themselves; having a good understanding of reading skills; able to mark, make and write some recognisable letters and to demonstrate numeracy and problem solving skills and importantly an “I can do” attitude. We have to get it right at the start to ensure children are able to achieve to their best ability.
Early years education lays the foundations for all that is to come. Studies have shown that a humans brain is most receptive to learning, between birth and three years of age. So early education plays a critical role during this development period.
Finding the right childcare is really important but it also has to be a partnership between nursery school and the home environment to enrich and reinforce a child’s learning development. Some parents dislike the wording ‘education’ and ‘teaching’ when it comes to the early years as many fear this will lead to less play and less freedom more formal learning, but setting up best play needs to be challenging, stimulating and engaging to have the greatest learning objectives.
The best and most successful early years providers, in my eyes, are the ones who are focused on helping children to learn and recognise that parents and carers need help too. Supporting the whole family to prepare for school is helping to develop the right attitudes and skills needed to ensure that every child is ready for school. Early years educators should have high aspirations for the children in their care and a motto of ‘I can do’ underpins all that they do and learn! Children will always strive to rise to staff’s high expectations.
What are the key ways young children learn?
That means indoors and outdoors, alone and with others. Play allows children to find out about things, try out and practise ideas and skills, take risks, explore their feelings, learn from mistakes, be in control and think imaginatively. Playing is an important centre of learning for young children. Play at times need to be planned by an adult and challenging for children as this will extend their learning and at times take them out of their comfort zone!
- Exploring new things and experiences
Children’s deep curiosity leads them to use all their senses to explore in real hands-on activities, they are then able to put the information together in their own minds to form ideas.
Even before they can talk in words, children are keen to share their ideas through sounds, gesture and body language. Talk helps children understand what they are experiencing. It is really important children are given opportunities to express their own ideas, as well as have conversations to hear other peoples’s ideas, extend their thinking, and use language about learning.
- Being shown how to do things
‘Show me and I will learn’ – children learn skills by watching others and being shown how to do something. Adults play an important part in this area as we are good role models and at times we need to guide and demonstrate.
- Having FUN!!
There is no place for dull, repetitive activities. Laughing, having fun and enjoyment, are the best contexts for learning. Activities can be playful, they are meant to be enjoyed!!
I personally feel strongly about the importance of early years education and preparing every child to be school ready. This can be challenging and demanding for parents. Some of you may feel you need greater support and guidance to prepare your child for school. I am extremely passionate and enthusiastic about running Pre-School skill sessions tailoring individual programmes for each child I work with in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for that child. I can also provide support in a non-judgemental way for parents, enabling parents to support their child.
As a very experienced early years practitioner I have developed a wealth of knowledge and expertise which I can share with pre-school children on a one to one basis. Details of my support packages are available on my website.