Is your child ready for reception?

Posted on 30th Jul 2021 in School News, Early Years

Sophie Baber, Headteacher at Highfield and Brookham Schools, offers her top tips on getting your child ready for reception.

Summer is a great time to start considering how to prepare your child for their first day of reception. This can be exciting, if not a little daunting, but a child’s first experience of school is important, and it’s in everyone’s interests to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible. As a parent, you play a crucial role in making sure your child approaches school with a spring in their step. But this doesn’t mean starting a rigorous routine of phonics and maths.

Sophie Baber, Headteacher of Brookham School in Liphook, Hampshire, feels that reading is the most important skill to help your child be ‘reception ready’.

If there is one word that your child should be able to read when they start school, she says, their name is top of the list. It will be printed on every available surface in class. Their register label, table, chair, pegs, books and obviously their uniform, beautifully labelled by you, will all be adorned with their name in a variety of fonts.

The first letter is the starting point, but don’t stop there. Teachers are, by nature, organised creatures, so Isabel, Isabella and Isabelle will have their coat pegs positioned neatly all in a row. While these parents are bound to become your best friends, you may not want the daily stress of returning various items of clothing. Follow the school’s example, and label everything. If it doesn’t move, put your child’s name on it. Just remember to use the same name that you’ve put on your child’s registration forms. There is little point teaching your child to read Teddy when every label at school will say Edward.

Just as important is engendering a love of language. This starts with the good old-fashioned nursery rhyme. You have probably been singing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' for the last four years. But what about 'Hickety Pickety' or 'Sing a Song of Sixpence'? Nursery rhymes are great fun to sing, while having the added bonus of being key to building the foundations for learning phonics. The more a child hears, the more they tune in their ears to phonic rhyming patterns.

Speaking of tuning in the ears, learning to listen is another vital prerequisite to reading.

Summer is a wonderful time to practice listening. Lying in the garden listening to the bees buzzing and the birds singing is a lovely way to encourage a young child to practice sound discrimination. This skill will, in turn, help a child learn the units of sounds in words as their auditory discrimination becomes more finely tuned.

Teach your child to love books – this is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Cuddling up for the bedtime story should be a treat for both of you, and the big bonus is that you are doing a huge amount to support your child’s learning at the same time. You will be modelling how to hold a book, turn the pages, use the illustrations to support the text but, most importantly, you are filling your child with a wonderful array of language.

But what should you be reading? The honest truth is, it doesn’t matter, it’s whatever sparks your child’s interest and imagination. Just read!