“The days are long, but the years are short.” Love it or hate it, this quote is so apt for many parents right now as, having only just mastered the whole pre-schooler thing, they prepare for the next stage in their child’s life – ‘big school’.
If your child was born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017, soon they are due to start school, most likely in September 2021.
For some parents this may still feel like a long way off. For some the idea is daunting. For some the excitement has already started to build. While the start date may not be until next year, the process to ensure the school you choose is the right one starts now.
The application deadline for most North and West Yorkshire state schools is 15 January 2021. If are considering a private education, the sooner you apply the better to avoid missing out on your first choice. Independent schools differ on the amount of time they require you to apply in advance and usually have more settling-in sessions for children (and parents) in the build-up to their first term; always visit the schools’ websites to look up their admissions dates and procedures.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, many schools are now offering virtual events to help you gain a good introduction to the school. We recommend you:
Make a list of all the schools you’re interested in, from your first choice to your fallback options. Keep a dedicated file or folder for quick reference – brochures/website links soon mount up!
Sign up to as many events as you can, explore all the available features and if possible ask questions.
If you are genuinely interested in a school, arrange a visit in person where possible. If not, have a one-to-one call with a member of staff, ideally a Reception class teacher.
If your child has learning difficulties, find out about the school’s SEN offering to ensure they can provide the necessary support.
At Ashville, we have developed a bespoke virtual open day platform to enable families to experience our school from the comfort of their own home. Our online open days include 360 virtual tours, a library of videos with staff and pupils and the opportunity for parents to have their queries answered as part of our live Q&A sessions. On Wednesday 11 November we are hosting our next virtual event that is dedicated to the Reception Class of 2021. The Head of Prep School will be joined by our experienced Reception Class Teacher and Director of Admissions to guide you through the process and answer your questions.
Of course, it’s not just about the admin. Every child is different, and you will probably have a good idea already of your child’s ‘readiness’ for school and the areas to work on in the coming months. Children who have already attended nursery or pre-school will have an immediate advantage, having experienced the structure of an early years setting and enhanced opportunities to develop their social and cognitive skills.
There are many things that you, as their first educator, can do at home too. Here are a few tips from our specialist early years team to help you prepare your child for Reception:
Encourage increasing independence in getting dressed and practising personal hygiene. Being able to dress and undress themselves will prepare them for changing for PE, for example.
Chat whenever and wherever and make every activity an opportunity for discussion. Something as simple as talking about the things you spot and hear on a nature walk can encourage good communication and language skills.
Always be confident and positive when talking to them about ‘big school’. If you are feeling anxious about it, discuss this away from your child with someone you trust to avoid your child picking up on your anxiety.
Play alphabet and numbers games to get an early grounding in literacy and numeracy. There are lots of great age-appropriate games you can buy and free activity ideas online, but there are also very simple things you can do in day-to-day play. Make counting part of everyday routine, whether it’s cars, building blocks, snacks, or baking ingredients, and talk about and ask them to identify letters when reading their favourite books. It’s also useful for them to be able to recognise their own name written down.
Practise good manners every day. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ should be automatic, and in day-to-day play you can model phrases such as “my turn please” or “let’s share” to encourage cooperation and sharing.
By following these steps, you will hopefully feel more confident that, when they take their first uniformed walk through the school gates on legs that still seem far too little, you will have done everything you can to help them thrive. Leave the rest to us!
Guest blog by: Fiona Wooley, Director of Admissions, Ashville College
Located in Harrogate, Ashville College is a leading co-educational independent school for pupils aged 3 to 18. In Reception, pupils can join from the term after their fourth birthday. We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage. We spend time getting to know each pupil and small class sizes are maintained to allow more one-to-one time between teacher and pupil.
If you would like to find out more and register for our upcoming Reception Class Virtual Open Day please visit our website