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Flying The Nest - How to make sure your little one is ready for their first day of school

Flying The NestBy Mrs Nicola Kenny, Reception teacher at Akeley Wood School September is an exciting time for both teachers and pupils, but more so for those children who will be starting school for the first time. Whilst it can be a little daunting, most children settle quickly and easily into their new surroundings. Throughout their lives our children will go through many times of transition and with a little help, preparation and encouragement they are able to cope and indeed flourish during these times. The key thing is not to worry. Children start school with a wide range of experiences and abilities and the teachers are there to help everyone progress at their own pace.

What Should My Child Be Able to Do? Your child doesn’t need to be able to read, write or count before they start school but it is helpful if you have shared experiences of stories and nurtured a love of books. It is also beneficial if you have provided your child with activities through which they have become familiar with mark making, such as paint, large crayons and chalks. Many activities such as singing, playing games and talking about nature and numbers will begin to build your child’s enthusiasm for learning and a curiosity to want to investigate the world around them. It’s important to help your child build the skills to become an independent thinker and learner. Little things like putting on their own shoes and coat, hanging up their bag, washing their hands or helping you to tidy away can prepare them for listening and following instructions when they start Reception class. These age-appropriate tasks encourage your child to become independent with your support. Preparing Them Mentally and Emotionally Your child’s new school will often provide you with a brochure about what to expect when they start Reception and some will even share a child-friendly version with the soon-to-be pupil. It is important to make the most of these booklets, looking at the pictures and talking about the positive things that are in store. They will begin to look forward to the new things they will see and do and the friends they will make. Visit the school as often as possible with your child before they start. There will likely be open days, fairs, plays and other events too which you can attend to familiarise yourselves with the journey, setting and people. Most schools also hold a specific ‘transition or moving-up day’ for children to experience a day in their new class with their teacher and classmates. Share your child’s interests and strengths with their new teacher as this will enable them to provide opportunities to enthuse individual children. You can do this verbally or through an All About Me booklet. Lead By Example The single most important thing is to promote a relaxed and positive attitude to their new beginning. It is often us as parents who worry most. Children are naturally sociable, quick to make friends and love the adventure of starting school. They are ready for the next stage in their learning and will blossom as they grow during their first year at school. The progress that you see is amazing and you will look back and wonder why you ever worried.

Akeley Wood Nursery and Junior School in Wicken near Milton Keynes is an independent school for girls and boys aged 12 months to 11 years. If you would like to arrange a visit to learn about their Nursery or Junior School provision, contact the admissions office on 01280 860824 or email