Starting primary school is a big step in your child’s life and marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter. This guide gives you a detailed overview on preparing your child for school, recommended reading lists plus some activities and ideas that may be helpful for supporting your child with the transition.
Do I need to prepare my child for primary school?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Some pre-schools have an excellent programme of phonics and children start school knowing most of their letters whereas others do no phonics at all. It is worth noting that studies show it is far more important to focus on play based learning at the pre-school age and indeed some of the top performing countries around the world have a school starting age much later than ours. However, it is also important to consider the ‘richness’ of the environment surrounding the child in these earlier formative years. If children are exposed to stories, practical application of numberwork and opportunities to develop strong fine motor skills then they will be all the more ready to succeed in primary school.
Developmental markers for early years
There are lists of widely recognised developmental markers for the early years that can be found via this website link: https://www.foundationyears.org.uk/files/2015/04/4Children_ParentsGuide_2015_FINAL_WEBv2.pdf
Developmental differences between boys and girls in early years
At the lower end of primary it is often seen that girls develop a little quicker academically than boys although this tends to level out as time goes on. It is for this reason that schools often offer both the 7+ and 8+ entrance options for boys to allow an extra year for them to develop and show their potential.
Recommended reading lists for Key Stage 1
At school, children will often be using reading schemes and structured programs, such as the Oxford Reading Tree, or phonics schemes such as Read Write Inc or Jolly Phonics.
Some great picture books at reception age:
Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson
Baby Goz by Steve Weatherill
FunnyBones by Allan Ahlberg
Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival
Shark in the Park by Nick Sharatt
Peace at Last by Jill Murphy
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
Handa’s Surpirse by Eileen Brown
Elmer by David Mckee
The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
Aliens love Underpants by Claire Freedman
Numeracy activities to do at home with your primary aged child
Numeracy at home for early learners is all about building up core skills, strong mental maths foundations and developing problem- solving and reasoning. This can be done through quick verbal games focused around times tables, number-bonds, addition and subtraction etc. See the link below for more ideas:
The development of mathematical reasoning and problem-solving is a key indicator for success at the end of primary school and beyond. This can be helped by involving children as much as possible in the practical day to day application of Maths. Adding up the cost of the shopping, doubling the ratio of a recipe whilst cooking, thinking through angles and measurements when doing DIY etc.
Stretching activities for KS1 children
There are various educational applications and text books for children that can be purchased as extension work at home. I tend to recommend websites such as ‘HittheButton’ for Maths skills or ‘ReadingEggs’ for reading practice. Then there are textbooks such as the Bond Books or CGP series that are all available to purchase in Waterstones and via Amazon. I also cannot highlight enough how important a rich regular programme of reading can be at this age to underpin later educational success.
How important is homework in foundation and Year 1?
This is a question that come up often and there are a range of opinions on the topic. Reading through a range of research on this it is clear that if homework is to be effective it needs to be well planned, targeted to support the work taught in the classroom and not overly onerous. It is also seen that parental support (certainly at the younger end of the age range) is also a key indicator of how successful the homework will be. It can be difficult in a classroom set up for a teacher to prepare homework in advance that is exactly targeted to each child or indeed to where the level of understanding of each child has reached during the lessons that day. In my opinion, regular homework focused on reading or listening to audiobooks and practising key maths foundation skills such as times tables and number bonds is always useful.
What age should my child get a private tutor?
There is no one size fits all approach to hiring a private tutor. Tutors are useful in a number of different ways to support core learning and foundation skills, cover gaps, support and build confidence and extend children who are not suitably challenged by the work they have been given. Therefore, a tutor can be useful at all sorts of different ages and stages.