Tonight I did a webinar on Language and Literacy without structured activities like stencils, flash cards, board games, large group activities like news, repetitive songs like the alphabet song and ants in the apple. I was asked how you demonstrate school readiness to parents who want their children to read and write before they start school if you are using this play based, child focused method.
Here are some tips:
- You are the professional. Parents choose to enrol their children in your service for your skills and knowledge on child development. Use your knowledge and research to explain to the families what school readiness is really all about, and what is developmentally appropriate.
- Do your research. Understand what is developmentally appropriate, what the schools are looking for and how to meet this. Talk to your local schools and find out what they are looking for. Then share this with the families to lower their expectations to help support the children’s transition. Here are just a few of the many links from different sites on what school readiness looks like in Australia (note it is realistic and in line with child development/EYLF):
- Check your policies. Make sure your policies are reflective of current research, and use these to explain how you meet the requirements. For example- state that “children have opportunities to develop their literacy and numeracy skills through every activity as our talented and qualified educators provide resources and intentional teaching that support acquisition of skills. Through engaging in meaningful and varied experienced children develop not only skills that will assist with the transition to school, but more importantly, they develop dispositions for learning such as enquiry, agency, resilience, problem solving and creativity.”
- Demonstrate your work. Create displays, documentation, newsletters, programs etc to demonstrate to families how you are preparing children for school. Keep it in line with your research and policies, but make it apparent to families that you value and embed school readiness in multiple aspects of your program in an ongoing basis.
School is intense, it is busy, there is a lot to do, but children who are overwhelmed, frustrated and anxious because of their experience in the years before school will not do well. Neither will children who have been pushed to learn things that have been taught incorrectly and the school needs to “un-teach” and start again.
As you can see from the links above nothing is that intensive, so feel confident enough to share this, respectfully and professionally, with the families to help build those partnerships. Put the information in enrolment packs, newsletters, facebook posts etc etc. Get the school in to talk to the families. Anything that will take the pressure off the children and free them up to learn and develop, instead of missing out on their childhoods. They have 13 years of structure and stencils to come.
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