“My Felix, he’s an amazing reader. He’s on Level 5 books already. I’m not sure what the teachers are going to do with him.” That’s a little snippet I overheard on a Reception taster afternoon. And then there was: “Emily, bless her, she’s such a natural, she can say her 3 times table already.”
It’s quite likely, given that you are in this particular avenue of the internet, reading this particular blog that you are a parent that is engaged, involved and committed to your child’s education. That’s wonderful. And as it should be.
But you will probably have heard comments like ones about Emily and Felix. If you haven’t already, there’s a good chance you will. And it can be worrying. People who want the best for their children at school tend to worry. Only natural.
Please let me reassure you, speaking as a parent of 2, a teacher and a school governor. You can safely ignore the playground prodigy nonsense.
Felix and Emily’s parents may think they’ve done the right thing, and got their angels as ready for school as they could. They will have done it with the best intentions. But they’re misguided. What’s important for starting school is not being ahead of the class, or being caught up in a ‘mine-can-do-this’ arms race, or being able to repeat rote learnt maths 'knowledge'. The qualities that matter in Reception are things like curiosity, independence, perseverance, focus. Children at reception age need to be willing to have a go, to have their own ideas, to think creatively. They need to be able to play, imaginatively, with others. They need to be interested and engaged in what they are learning, to have a desire to find out more, to have open minds. They need to be exploring, experimenting, experiencing.
So don’t bust a gut to get them ahead before they’re even there. If they want to read, great, encourage them, talk about what they’ve read. But don’t force them to. If they want to do maths, let them, but do something practical. Learning to perform party tricks with times tables might seem impressive, but playing with money is much more useful.
If you want to get your children school ready spend time with them actively. Be amazed with them. Let them ask questions. Ask them questions, open questions, questions that get them thinking. Show them you don’t know the answer to everything, that in fact nobody knows everything, but that it’s fun to find out. Pause and study the leaves. Kneel down and look at the insect on the pavement. Read to them. Play with them. Try to ignore your phone.
These are all important ways of getting your child school ready. Because right here, at the start of their school lives, they need to acquire the skills and attributes that will help them want to learn, to enjoy their learning and to learn independently and resourcefully all through their school lives.
Felix and Emily can do their thing. Don’t worry about them. Just support your child with a love of learning and you’ll set them up brilliantly. That’s school ready.
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Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.