If your little one is off to big school in September or you are about to start the application process for them to start next year, the information below may help answer any lingering worries or questions you may have about them starting in full time education.
Will they adjust?
They have been your baby for so long and hopefully they’ve formed close bonds with the staff at Harpole Day Nursery, so it’s a new experience for everybody. Luckily, young children are very adaptable. It will take them a few weeks to get used to going to this new place five days a week (especially if previous childcare arrangements weren’t full time) but they will soon grow to love the predictability of the school day. Most children start school part-time to ease them in to the new set up and we are very happy for reception children to continue attending nursery during this period to support the transition and bridge the childcare gap.
What will they do at school?
Like Harpole Day Nursery, all reception classes must follow the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework, which safeguards the learning, development and care of children in early education; focusing on learning through structured play rather than work or sit-down lessons. There shouldn’t, therefore, be any sudden jump in the way the children learn – it will be a gradual progression.
My ‘just turned 4’ year old doesn’t seem ready?
You can never be sure if your child is ready for the step up to school – regardless of their age. If your child has a summer birthday and will be amongst the youngest in the year, you may feel they are too young, disadvantaged, behind in development or are not ready to be away from you. If you have any concerns, the first step is to have a word with your child’s key person at nursery who will have a very clear idea of the developmental level of your child. We can also invite the reception teacher of your chosen primary school to join us for the meeting to discuss your options.
It is entirely possible for your child to defer their application but they must have start primary education by the term following their 5th birthday. If you decide to delay your application fully until the following year, it is likely they will have to start in Year 1 along with the same classmates they would have had the previous year. Some experts say this can actually increase any disadvantage; as skipping the reception year is likely to put them at greater risk of falling behind and feeling isolated, whereas starting with their peers puts them on an even keel from the get go. More information on starting your child
Will they be tired?
More than likely! Not only does the ‘getting to school on time’ routine usually means an earlier start to the day, but the change in environment, constant flow of learning and long periods of concentration needed will take some getting used to. We would recommend ensuring they have a good breakfast which includes some protein and fats to give them enough energy to get through the morning. It would be sensible to keep after-school activities to a minimum, encourage calm and quiet play at home (this is when half an hour in front of the TV or on the computer can be a good thing) and start winding down for bed a bit earlier than normal. Some pre-schoolers are still taking naps until they start school, so these children will need an extra early bedtime to prevent over-tiredness and possible behavioural problems. You may find your child starts sleeping longer at night, but this is essential to recharge their batteries each day – a well rested child is far more content and can concentrate for longer periods. You will probably appreciate this extra time in the evening to prepare uniforms and lunches for the next school day! How much sleep does my child need?
Will they make friends?
As well as the learning side of things, most parents worry that their child will not step up to the mark socially. You will probably already have an idea whether your child is the shy type who prefers to play alone or quietly observe, the leader of the group who will talk to anyone, or somewhere in between. This all boils down to personality and confidence and doesn’t mean they will make it easier or harder to make friends. Chances are they will already know some of their classmates from nursery, playgroup or living on the same street – but if not don’t worry. Children usually adjust quicker than adults when out of their comfort zone – and primary school is less about making friends and more about sharing the fun that comes with learning new things with children their own age; then returning home (exhausted!) to tell the rest of the family all about it! Friends are a bonus that will come in time, but don’t expect it from day one. If you are concerned that your child is remaining in their shell too long, you could always try inviting some of their classmates round for tea or to their birthday party – they will probably be more confident building friendships in their own environment.
How will I manage the school holidays?
When you’re a pupil, having 12 weeks holiday a year is the best thing since sliced bread. What you probably didn’t appreciate though, is the real headache it caused your parents! If your child has previously attended a nursery or similar which is available all year round, the school holidays could pose a new challenge for you. If both parents have returned to work, with the average annual leave around 4 weeks a year, it can be a real juggling act to sort childcare for so many weeks a year – particularly the long summer break. Fortunately, just like after-school care, many schools will run some sort of holiday-club. Also check with your local leisure centre, sports clubs and council for any schemes that might be running – but make sure you do this is advance as space can be limited. These clubs and schemes will come at a cost, and are unlikely to cover all day every day during a school holiday period, but they should help you find a balance of quality family time and keeping them busy and learning while you continue at work or catch up with chores at home. Did you know that Harpole Day Nursery can accommodate children during the holidays? We are registered to care for children up to the age of 8. Space is limited but please contact us for availability. You can still use your childcare vouchers with us during holiday times.
My child is due to start school this time next year – how and when can I apply?
If your child turns 5 between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017 then school may still seem a long way off. However, applications for a state school place in the 2016/17 academic year open on 14 September 2015 until January 2016. Click here for more information on the admissions process and to apply online.
Not sure which schools to apply to? Use the Council’s Northamptonshire schools directory to find your nearest and best achieving schools. Attending open days at prospective schools can help you make your decision.
Useful links to help make sure you and your child are ‘school ready’:
If your child is leaving Harpole Day Nursery to start school this year, we’d like to thank you for choosing us as your childcare provider and wish you all the best for the future. You can still keep in touch with us via our Facebook page!