Following our previous blog outlining our School Readiness Curriculum, the philosophy behind it and the curriculum focus, this will delve into what it looks like in action. Starting school is a milestone that involves building new skills, support from family as well as connecting with the community. The School Readiness Curriculum has been designed with this in mind and creates meaningful learning experiences to encourage the development of these necessary elements.
What skills do children need?
Sense of Belonging: Each individual is unique and everyone needs to feel as though they have a sense of belonging. Knowing how to communicate, and self regulation are extremely important to help the child make and maintain relationships.
Independence: A child needs to be independent at school as they will be expected to be doing things by themselves. Self help skills and having the ability to care for themselves is important. Children require determination and task persistence. Children need to be able to recognise the need for help and have the confidence to ask for assistance.
Social Awareness: Children will need to be aware of and have respect for diversity. They will need to engage, compromise and understand the social ques and expectations of their peers. Being able to work cooperatively with peers, have the skills to negotiate, compromise and play appropriately will be beneficial.
Sensory Processing: Children need to have the capabilities to be in the zone for learning. Being able to sit for a period of time, hold a pencil and be in control of their own body movements will help them be positive participants in their class. There is so much stimulation all around, so being able to accurately process information in an environment is vital.
Communication skills: Listening and language skills are essential. Expressive language is about using language to ensure the child can be understood by others. Receptive language is the ability to understand and comprehend and the following instructions. Finally the articulation of words to produce the correct sounds in words.
Emotional Maturity: Emotions are difficult to understand and express. Children should be allowed to feel their emotions and should be supported to express them in a positive way. It is vital that adults role model maturity and remain calm in all situations.
How we embed these skills
- Having daily routines. Children need to have an awareness of routines to be able to follow the structure of the day at school.
- Encouraging families to allow children to try on their own.
- Setting children up with strategies to reflect on their learning and problem solving.
- Having visual prompts to remind children.
- Implementing experiences that will give them the skills they need to complete tasks.
- Role modelling appropriate behaviours.
- Being encouraging and enthusiastic with children’s attempts.
- Helping children to learn how to regulate their own behaviours, including responding appropriately to challenges and accepting consequences.
- Creating opportunities for independence and safe yet challenging spaces where the children can learn within their own environment.
- Encouraging turn taking and sharing. This is a skill that needs to be taught so that it can become part of life skills. Use visual social stories to assist.
- Responding appropriately at the child’s level, being open and available and ensuring you are giving the child the confidence to ask for help.
- Giving children opportunities to not be winning all the time, building understanding and resilience, learning the coping ability of not always being first. Helping children become active problem solvers, learning skills to be competent capable children while building resilience.
- Talking about feelings and allowing the child to express their feelings. Using books and role play to support understanding.
- Engaging with the community to help the children deal with new situations.
- Consistently use manners and greetings displaying good role modelling and consistent approaches allowing the child to learn skills to develop appropriate relationships with adults and teachers.
- Developing empathy is a great skill required for developing and maintaining friendships and socially being competent.
- Playing games that help children learn to follow instructions and directions. This skill is vital when listening to others and knowing how to process information.
How we support families
We know that starting school is such a big process for the whole family, so we actively work in a partnership with families to make the transition easier. When considering the needs of families, it is also important to factor in the feelings of younger siblings. They can often feel lost or alone without their older sibling. Making them feel special while reminding them that they will get their turn at school soon, will help them to feel part of the process.
Our strategies to support families include:
- Sharing our School Readiness Program with parents.
- Giving families suggestions for how they can follow up at home.
- Having resources available that give them simple tips, including websites, books and apps to use at home.
- Connecting with the children’s schools. Following them on Facebook, reading their newsletters and sharing any important messages that they post, i.e. information evenings, enrolment due dates.
- Encouraging families to attend orientation programs, and be aware of when they are so we can follow up with how they went.
- Being open to answering any questions they may have.
- Being honest with families, especially if you believe their child needs extra support.
How we connect with the community
Being part of a school environment can be daunting for a child. There are so many new sounds, bigger groups, fast routines, and bigger risks to take. To prepare them for this change, We introduce the children to some of the differences as part of their daily routine.
Our strategies to connect with the community include:
- Talking about the classroom, the outside play area, the bell, the different teachers, the crossing guard, and uniforms. We set up an imaginative play area with dress ups to allow the children to practice what they are learning.
- Asking the children if they have any questions and give them confident and positive answers. Older children can support younger children too.
- Visiting schools whenever we can. Many schools have a community playgroup to be involved in. School pick up and attending events such as assembly or a sports carnival will expose the children and get them used to the school routines. Visiting any school will help, regardless if the child will be attending there.
- Visiting the library, community garden; implementing a community helpers project; or having community incursions will help the children feel a sense of belonging to their communities.
- We implement projects within our service that help children have a sense of belonging to their community, We help them to learn about diversity, history, and culture.
- We have a strong connection with our Indigenous culture. We support the children to have a strong connection with the land and the traditional owners of the land.
- We have a vast Community Events program that we implement across the year.