School readiness

Unsurprisingly, Little Chick received a place at his first choice school. As a previously looked after child, he is entitled to this. All the same, it is a huge relief to know that come September he will be heading to the big school that seems best for him. It also seems prudent to at least consider school readiness. Part of me thinks that it is the school that should be ready for him, but this is probably not the time for that discussion. Similarly, I find that compiled lists of necessary skills can be arbitrary and unhelpful, making you focus on what they should be able to do rather than what they can do. However, like most local authorities, Derbyshire provide such a list, 10 keys to unlocking school readiness, which we will help Little Chick work towards. Come September, I don’t want him to find the front door to big school locked and firmly bolted.

Taken from the Derbyshire County Council website, and shared with parents through early years settings, The 10 keys for unlocking school readiness are:

  • I can settle happily without my parent or carer
  • I can tell friends and grown-ups what I need
  • I can take turns and share when I am playing
  • I can go to the toilet on my own and wash my hands
  • I can put on my own coat and shoes and feed myself
  • I can tell a grown up if I am happy, sad or cross
  • I know that what I do and say can make others happy or unhappy
  • I am curious and want to learn and play
  • I can stop what I am doing, listen and follow simple instructions
  • I enjoy sharing books with grown-ups

At first glance, this seems OK. Nothing too daunting, no major alarm bells ringing. Picking it apart, there are some areas to bear in mind for September. His time at nursery has given him the opportunity to settle without us. Some mornings he can be clingy, but a promise of breakfast is normally enough to entice him away. Waiting isn’t a strong point for Little Chick, but he is getting better. He can take turns reasonably well and will share when prompted, and sometimes without encouragement.

He is good at verbalising his needs, to adults certainly, and is gaining in confidence with his peers. This will improve with time and hopefully some of the Early Years Pupil Premium funding will aid this. Similarly, his emotional awareness is good, but will progress with more 1:1 intervention from his key worker at nursery, alongside what we are doing at home. Books can help with this too; Little Chick loves book, especially bedtime stories. This is when we have some of our most meaningful conversations. I try to keep it light, not wanting to worry him before bed; equally though, it is a chance to reassure him and perhaps fathom what has been troubling him that day.

Little Chick has a gorgeous sense of wonder. ‘Wow!’ is commonly uttered, but his surprise is never lessened or faked. He is full of curiosity, always wanting to know how things work. He wants to learn and wants to play. Currently, I can’t picture him in big school, a wee dot in that busy environment, but I sense that he will rise to the challenge.

Listening. This could be a stumbling block. When he does listen, he can follow instructions incredibly well, but he can be stubborn. If he’s not engaged you’ve got no chance. I’m not sure how to remedy this, or whether it will simply come with age and maturity, but this probably needs some consideration.

Self-care is probably the other area for improvement; I went to type ‘concern’, then realised that I am projecting unnecessary expectations and pressures on him. We have started to encourage him to dress himself and choose his clothes for nursery (from a small selection) and this has extended to coats and shoes. Velcro shoes are just about manageable. Zips, therefore coats, are still some way off. But, again, there is time.

He has made progress with toilet training, though perhaps not as much as we would have hoped or expected. But then, considering his past experiences, it is amazing that he is even considering anything other than sitting in full, soiled nappies. He will do it in his own time and school will just have to appreciate that. If we are still facing reluctance and issues in September then a conversation needs to be had with school, perhaps bearing in mind how his Pupil Premium Plus funding may be best spent. But my anxiety will not help him progress any faster. On the up side, he is a pro at washing his hands; just so long as school monitor how often he does this, for the sake of his skin and their floors.

Above all, I know that Little Chick is a kind, curious, brave wee boy. Everyone who meets him likes him. He is by no means perfect, but he has immense potential. He needs to be championed and that is our job. It is also school’s job, but it is our responsibility to hold them to that.

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