In some areas of London some children as young as 3 are already embarking into the mad and unsettling world of 3+ assessments. Assessing for nursery entry has long been a feature of prominent Pre-schools in New York but has thankfully been more of rarity this side of the pond. Some schools use this assessment to select children for nursery classes, usually linked to sought after independent schools. Children start nursery the September after they have turned three years old, so for the eldest in the year they might be nearly 4 when starting and other will only have turned three on the 30th August. A few examples of popular London schools assessing for entrance at 3 years old would be Newton Preparatory School, Highgate Pre-Preparatory School and Dulwich Preparatory School. The assessments often take place in the school itself and happen any time between the October and February before September start. This means that some children attending the assessment will be as young as 2.2 years old! Thankfully I have yet to come across a private London nursery school unconnected to a junior school that assesses for entrance.
Assessments at this age will be very difficult to pin-down as there will be less emphasis on formal learning and more on communication, concentration and personal and social skills. Schools will be looking for children who are able to share, follow instructions and concentrate on activities, as well as children who have above average communication skills and are already showing good levels of comprehension when discussing a story or creating a picture. Physical development is also a prime area in this age range so an ability to climb stairs, balance bricks to make a tower, drink water from a cup, thread beads or mark make will be looked at as well. Mostly at this very tender age, schools are looking for a child’s readiness to learn and ‘teachability’ as opposed to an existing skill set of counting and letters.
Games and activities to play at home with 2 year olds:
- Read, read, read and read some more! Children are never too young to benefit from sharing a book. Reading improves vocabulary, comprehension, communication, concentration and a host of other skills. Don’t be afraid of repeated readings of favourite books as this will allow a child to enrich and enhance their understanding. Slowly introduce key questions like what was a child’s favourite part of the story- why? What happened at the end? How do you think this character feels?
- Mark making- make it big and messy before attempting small pictures and tools. Chalk on the floor, big builder paintbrushes and water on the paving stones, easel painting, hand painting, printing with objects.
- Taking turn games- simple games like lotto or matching pairs work wonderfully at encouraging children to wait their turn and helps them deal with not always winning!
- Communication support- one of the most proven and successful methods for enriching and supporting language development is commenting on shared play with your child. It need only be 5 minutes a day but fully engaging in your child’s imaginative play with cars, dolls, role play, train set can be extremely beneficial. There is a skill to it though- no questioning, try to comment and describe what your child is doing in simple two/ three or four word phrases, for example: Man climb stairs, cars drive up, rabbit cooks food. You can gradually extend this as your child begins to use longer phrases.
This is a guest post from Sabine Hook, Director of SH Nursery Consultancy