Recently, there’s been some debate about the meaning of the phrase “school readiness” within the EYFS. The document “Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage” tells us that the EYFS, “promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.”
There’s no doubt that young children who experience a high standard of teaching and learning are more likely to fare well at school. This is because the learning and development experienced in the early years underpins the learning and development achieved later.
However, there is some concern that the term “school readiness” gives the impression that young children in early years settings should be expected to behave and learn in very formal ways, so they are used to doing things such as sitting still and being quiet for quite long periods (in readiness for activities such as school assemblies) by the time they start school. In reality, these things are entirely inappropriate for younger children, who have completely different learning and development needs to older children. So it’s important for all early years practitioners to understand that being “ready for school” does not mean already doing the things expected of older children.
A good knowledge of child development will help you to prepare young children for school by ensuring that the teaching and learning they experience is right for them now. This will truly give them the best foundation for fulfilling their potential in the future.
“School readiness” is also greatly enhanced by early years practitioners who work in partnership with parents and carers to provide a good range of activities to help prepare children for the transition from their early years setting to school. A good professional relationship with local schools also has an important role to play here, as a co-ordinated approach between a child’s key worker and their future teacher works best. Visits to the early years setting by teachers, and trips to the school made by children and their key workers, are hugely beneficial, and there are many good storybooks, puzzles and games available to help familiarise children with starting school.
There’s also “Time for School,” an excellent new documentary series from CBeebies, that aims to capture the excitement of school adventures by following new Reception entrants throughout their first term. It’s informative for practitioners and parents, as well as for children themselves. You can find out more by visiting http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/shows/time-for-school .
I’ll be back next month, but it the meantime, if you haven’t yet registered for free access to Planet Vocational, do sign up – you’ll be able to access factsheets and other handy resources over the coming months, which compliment the content of my latest book A Practical Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage.