Early Years schooling is an extremely important time in a child’s development, as it represents their introduction to formal education and allows them to acquire a wide range of both social and academic skills. It’s also a new experience for parents, who will see their children head off to school for the first time and will watch them discover a world of new opportunities. Throughout the Early Years, it’s vital that parents encourage their children and help them adapt to their new learning environment.
Our approach to Early Years teaching
Here at Wellington College International Shanghai, we follow the UK’s Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, which is organised into seven key learning areas. The prime areas focus on a child’s personal, social and emotional development, their physical development and their communication and language skills. The remaining areas of the curriculum, known as the specific areas, focus on their ability to understand the world around them; their mathematical and problem-solving skills, their creative talents in expressive art and design and finally their enjoyment of literacy, which is developed through their exposure to stories, rhymes, songs and poems.
Parental input makes a huge difference
In order to help new pupils adapt to school life, socialisation is one of the key areas for parents to focus on, as children often find their first experiences of school somewhat overwhelming. Children influence each other greatly and use the common language of play to begin building good social skills at a young age. I would encourage parents to allow their child time to experience quality and organised play with other children prior to attending school; such as toddler groups and children’s clubs.
Equally important is the need for routine at home. Children respond positively to structure and routine at an early age; it aids their learning and their ability to understand every day activities. As a child enters early education, they will experience class rules, boundaries and expectations for their behaviour; all of which can be more easily adopted when a child has such structures in their home life. Going to bed at a decent time in the evening ensures that children are energised, motivated and ready to learn when they come to school.
Preparing for the first day of school
Some of the most common emotions that children feel when they first come into school are; fear of the unknown; nervousness of new people, places and routines; and endless energy and excitement. There are many ways in which we can alleviate any concerns felt by either the child or their parents:
- Pre-visits to their new school environment – To allow the child an opportunity to meet the staff within their new school, and to take a look at their new classroom.
- Staggered starts – All new children who start the year in Wellington are offered a staggered start into their new schooling life; shorter days to begin with, to ensure that the child settles in well.
- Building Good Relationships – It is extremely important that teaching staff develop good working relationships with the children and their parents; communication is absolutely key to building a successful three-way relationship. Parents have an equally important role in the education of their children.
The start of an incredible journey
Although many children find starting school to be a slightly daunting process, we aim to make all pupils feel as welcome, relaxed and content as possible, allowing them to settle in and enjoy their time here at Wellington. Through coordination and cooperation with parents, we feel that we are able to create the right circumstances for pupils to feel supported and excited about the first phase of their education.
Deputy Head of Pre-Prep (Early Years)