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Last week we had the talk. The parent assembly to talk about your child going into Year One. I’m not sure why it surprised me. How I missed the fact this was actually happening. My child is going into Year One.
No offence to any school or any teacher but as they explained the changes from Reception to Year One I felt a little sad. Year One seems like business. Reception felt more like and extension of the fun they had in nursery.
The Bookworm seems excited about it though. She loves writing, maths and literacy. But I wonder if she will like it as much when she has to do it in one-hour blocks. The staff at her school are ace and won’t do anything until the kids are ready. They may hold some of these more structural changes off until after the Autumn term if necessary.
We feel very fortunate with Bookworm’s school. They are very forward thinking and invest a great deal of time getting to know the children. They have great ideas around building self-confidence and celebrating whatever each individual child excels in.
So, as our daughter is preparing to go into Year One, I’ve been reflecting back on her year in Reception, and how she settled in there. I thought I would share some of my top tips and thoughts on the topic of preparing your child for Reception:
1. You and the school are on the same side
This may seem an odd thing to say but I guarantee you at times it may feel that you’re not. You may become weary at ineffective communication, the inability to trace down a cardigan (even if it has their name sewn and Sharpied on to it) and become downhearted at not being able to grab them for 5 minute pow-wow every other day. Depending on the school it may seem like there are never ending fundraisers, World Book Days (which require epic costumes) and obligatory baking demands. I understand a little more about some of these now. I have not joined the PTA but know a few ladies on the board. And the fundraising is sometimes just necessary.
The other things are part and parcel of running a school. I have come (actively trying hard) to graciously to accept them. It has also challenged me to become more organised (which is probably a good thing). But no-one is perfect. Bookworm has missed various costume days and gone in (to her horror) in school uniform. And shop-brought cakes have been unwrapped and placed in more homemade looking cases. However, Bookworm being Bookworm took the first opportunity to dob me in on this . Darn it.
2. Be kind to your child’s teacher. Your child will notice if you’re not
Again it seems obvious but can be played out very differently. I feel very blessed as I have had great experiences of Bookworm’s Nursery and Reception teachers. I’m actually more sad than she is about leaving her current teacher. I have made it a little thing that Bookworm has a secret mission in the first month of the new school year. She has to find out when her teacher’s and TAs’ birthdays are. We make them a card and sometimes buy a present. Just because once you see a Reception class in full swing, in the madness of a Monday morning you think HOW and WHY would anyone do this? Why would anyone be a Reception teacher?
It’s a super tough job and I want Bookworm’s teacher to know that they are appreciated, valued and respected. If these are the values I present and act out Bookworm is likely to emulate them. When Bookworm hears me talk positively and encouragingly of her teacher and and TAs she is likely to do the same.
3. Help your child understand that they ought to listen to the teacher
OK, I know what you’re thinking. How can I teach my child to listen to a teacher when they don’t listen to me? That’s another issue for another time. But teaching them role of a teacher and their significance is really important.
I heard this piece of advice on a podcast from a teacher who had been been in the job for 30 years. She explained: some families have multiple adults living in the house, some will be single parent families, some will have large extended families others will not see many other adults apart from their immediate legal guardian. So who is a teacher to a child?
To begin with they are just an adult. We must help that understand that a teacher is an amazing person. Someone who is going to help them. Someone who is going make the things they love doing even better. A teacher will teach them cool new stuff they don’t even know about yet and hopefully become someone they can talk to if they are ever in trouble. We also need to mention that a teacher (like Mummy, Daddy or special adult) will ask them to do things, and they’ll have to listen to them. They do this ensure all the children in the class can have as much fun as possible at that everyone in the class is kept safe.
I have spoken to teachers on this point. They know that essentially child X is not a bad child – no child is bad. But if the child comes into Reception and struggles to know the authority and position of a teacher it can present challenging issues.
4. If you haven’t heard of phonics, you soon will.
Phonics. It’s apparently how our children learn how to read and write these days. I was taught ABC. A for apple, b for ball and c for cat. I wasn’t even really taught ‘sounds’. This could be part of my inability to spell or maybe it contributes to why it took me three hours to write this post after all the editing and re-reading. But phonics as a system to teach children how to spell, read and write, seems to be the way forward.
Unfortunately I can not really do phonics. I can not hear the sounds I’m supposed to. I cannot ‘blend’. You will soon learn about ‘magic e’ (not the illegal expensive kind) and be quizzed on your ‘bare words’ and ‘split diagraphs’. Heaven forbid you are ever made to pronounce all of the ‘pure sounds’ in front of a group of parents.
Sorry if this has unnecessarily scared you. Phonics is a big deal but it will probably end up that you child teaches it to you wonderfully. I have done the odd bit of homework here and there though. As Bookworm is now starting to write, I feel frustrated that I can’t help sound out words unless I can come in line or at least try to use the same methods as school. I must admit that I do secretly rejoice when there are the words that defeat phonics (there are actually quite a few of them). I remember labouring with Bookworm, the word ‘the’. ‘The’ can not be spelled out with phonics. You just have to memorise that when you see T-H-E they will make ‘the’.
Because that’s how mummy learnt words and you can do it this way too.
Bookworm’s class also uses Makaton. This I have left to the teachers. Bookworm loves it as an additional means of expression. The whole class have leaned plays, stories, poetry and songs using Makaton. It’s amazing what our children can remember and recite when other people are teaching them.
Gosh I realise, I have quite a lot to say about going into Reception. I haven’t touched on friendships, pastoral issues, dinner times, children’s love languages and hairstyle traumas. So stayed tuned for this becoming a little bit of series.
I will ask Adam to fire out a post on the topic too. He actually does more of the dropping off and picking up than I do.
Has your little one just finished Reception? Do you have any concerns about Year One? Please feel free to ask anything about going into Reception. I will do my best to give my standard rambling answer.