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Preparing my 4 yo DD for school - have I done enough?

(23 Posts)
Campaspe Sun 14-Aug-11 18:50:46

DD (November birthday) starts school in Sept. We have been working hard to prepare her by encouraging independence with dressing etc which is ok, but I'm finding it more difficult to prepare her academically. She has attended pre-school for the last 2 years, where she received good reports about her behaviour and ability to mix, but no comments were made at all about her abilities.

We are passionate about books and have read to her from birth. She enjoys stories and poems. However, DD has no interest in learning to read for herself. She recognizes letters phonetically (not sure she would know the actual names of letters IYKWIM), and can recognize her forename, but apart from that, cannot read, say the alphabet, blend even simple words. Will this put her at a disadvantage?

Writing - she really struggles to even copy her name. In spite of strenous efforts on our part, she has no real interest in colouring, crafts, or attempting to write. So, she can spell out her name verbally, but not produce a recognizable attempt at writing it. How can I get her interested in things like colouring, dot to dot etc that might improve these skills?

Counting - she can count to about 30 and do very basic sums such as 1+3. She recognizes shapes, colours etc.

Is all of this going to be sufficient? What more should I be doing, or am I better leaving it to the school to take these next steps, particularly as she is not keen to do it at home with mum and dad?

carpetlover Sun 14-Aug-11 19:00:41

Firstly, the independent dressing thing is great and her teacher will be very grateful for that. Does that include being able to take her own coat on and off and do the velcro on her shoes? Both these things really important.

Can she go to the toilet independently? That's another biggie. If she will be having school dinners, can she use a knife and fork independently?

Re academics; the range on entry to Reception is vast. Those well ahead and reading fluently etc will not necessarily be the brightest at 11. They are simply the ones that have either a)been regularly coached or b) are simply more mature and able to absorb the info quicker.

It's great that she knows the letters phonetically. That is much better than knowing the names of the letters and will help her so much more when she is ready to blend and learn to read.

Number wise, she's doing great if she can already count to 30 and do basic addition. Many kids in her class will come in needing to secure numbers to 10.

Reading to her is fab! Just share books and point out interesting things. Look at some very basic non-fiction stuff too. You get some great non-fiction stuff for 4-6yr olds with nice pictures and small sections of informations about stuff like spiders and butterflies.

She sounds like she is very ready for school so try not to worry. She will be fine! smile

changeforthebetter Sun 14-Aug-11 19:02:57

I am sure some primary school teachers will be along to give you a pasting comment shortly but from the perspective of a mum, I would say, please chill out a bit. If she can recognise her name, speak audibly, follow instructions and socialise with children then she will be fine. Reception is crucial for children in the broader sense that they learn what school is about and how learning can be fun. Hopefully, with good teachers she will enjoy school and want to be there. The academic side will come when it is ready and the socialisation and acclimatisation are essential so she is comfortable to learn when she is ready. I am also a keen reader and read to DCs from the start. DD could barely read a word in reception but liked being there so I was lazy decided to wait and see. Now she is an avid reader, not just bloody ORT but real books and she takes real pleasure in it too - much more important in the long run. Oh and if anyone, other than her class teacher starts talking about "levels" stick your fingers in your ears and sing, loudly grin

CecilyP Sun 14-Aug-11 19:32:08

She sounds fine to me. Regarding not being interested in drawing and colouring and that sort of thing, do you know any slightly older girls that do enjoy those things, that she could spend some time with as that could really encourage an interest.

MigratingCoconuts Sun 14-Aug-11 21:27:13

I really don't think you need to give her anything else but independence re dressing toilet etc and also a joy and love of learning.

That's all that was ever expected by our primary school and they took it from there.

I think you have done a fab job smile

MigratingCoconuts Sun 14-Aug-11 21:29:29

ps I may well be corrected on this but if she can count to 30 she is already doing more than the average child is expected to do by the end of reception, let alone the start..

Plonker Sun 14-Aug-11 21:48:53

My dd is starting school in September too <cries>

She sounds very similar to where your dd is smile

She can dress herself, do her shoes, use the toilet etc (though I'm not expecting clean knickers every day blush ). She can recognise her name, so finding her stuff shouldn't be a problem.

She can recognise some letters, but not very many.

She can write her name and can copy letters and do simple pictures (of family etc) but she wouldn't know where to start with blending words ...and she doesn't know the alphabet.

She can count reliably up to ten, struggles with her 'teens' then can count on from twenty.
She can do basic sums using her fingers and knows shapes/colours.

I'm not concerned about her academically. I think she's broadly average tbh.

I'm more concerned about her lack of social interaction with her peers - she's great with older children, but spectacularly aloof with her peers, which admittedly worries me.

She is however, very excited for school, so hopefully she'll take to it well.

Good luck to your dd, I'm sure she'll be fine smile

meditrina Sun 14-Aug-11 21:54:46

I think the social/self care side is far more important than anything academic (particularly any new initiatives in the last weeks of the hols), though recognising their name is handy. There will be a huge range of pre-existing knowledge, and reception teachers are completely used to that.

What will help is:

- going to the loo independently
- ability to blow own nose and chuck away the tissue
- ability to change for PE, and look for and recognise own name tape so she gets in and out of her own clothes
- be able to hang her coat up
- be able to open her lunch box and water bottle by herself, or carry a tray without tipping

mckenzie Sun 14-Aug-11 21:55:59

Please forgive me if I'm repeating something that's already been said but I haven't read all of the posts.
I helped out in our local school in reception and year 1 and the Head of Early Years would always tell the parents of the children who were going to be starting to just concentrate on the independence skills, for example
putting on and taking off coats,
going to the toilet by themselves,
being able to use cutlery/open the foil wrapper/put the straw in the whole,
get dressed and undressed (for PE)

Hope you and your DD have a great time in September.

PhylisStein Sun 14-Aug-11 22:04:12

I am a primary teacher and I think you should focus on:
the ability to be independent with toiletting, hand washing, doing up and taking off coat, sitting still cross legged while listening to a story, using scissors, using a computer mouse, opening own lunch box and piercing juice cartons, ability to say sorry rather than sulk or cry!

When you've mastered these then look at Jolly Phonics if you must! Any maths you do should be with counters/beads/buttons and do not expect your DC to do anything abstract.

I'm sure it'll all be fine!

mrz Mon 15-Aug-11 08:12:19

Relax and enjoy the rest of the summer together she will be fine.

changeforthebetter Mon 15-Aug-11 08:52:22

Ah but, what have you done to prepare? wink Hankies at the ready but do not cry in front of your child. Do you have someone you can sob with after you have left her, probably quite happily exploring her new surroundings, while you crumble into a soggy heap? grin

mrsmerryberry Mon 15-Aug-11 16:59:46

Campaspe, I'm in the same boat, as I'm sure many others are wondering if they have done enough. I think what some of the other mums on here have said makes sense and it is nice that a primary school teacher has taken the time to respond, as this has put me at ease.

I think my plan of action will be making sure lo is fully independant of dressing, eating and going toilet first. Then some simple basics like reading, writing name, counting and very basic maths and this will do us I think, don't want to stress out too much over this, as just eh thought of my lo starting school brings tears to my eyes. Goodness knows how I'm going to stop myself at the school gates on lo's first day.

Campaspe Mon 15-Aug-11 19:16:28

Thank you to everyone for your really supportive replies.

I'm going to relax about the academic stuff and just concentrate on the practicalities. I think my DD can do most of the things mentioned in the posts here.

Just one thing: how on earth can you teach them to put on a coat and do up a zip? It's a really difficult thing to teach!

Plonker - I'm like you in really hoping my DD can cope socially. Still, I guess lots of parents have that concern.

Does Reception change children? I know to expect tiredness etc, but I wonder if DD will come home wiht new language, new influences etc and how other parents have found it.

MigratingCoconuts Mon 15-Aug-11 19:59:15

expect the tiredness and then some. I had strange wild beasts instead of a DD for a while there. The only thing i could to was quietly direct the howling monster towards bed. Or, if it was earlier in the day, give her a snack and park in front of the TV.

I also found that she become increasingly aware of her peer group as well. Friendships began to mean more. There were some interesting phrases she started using when annoyed with me ('your not my best friend any more' and 'your not invited to my birthday party any more' were two faves)

carpetlover Tue 16-Aug-11 15:16:22

Can I also just suggest taking a snack and bottle of water when you go to pick her up-at least until the first half term. A banana is always good! Even those kids who have been in f/t nursery find Reception completely exhausting at first. Think about bringing evening meal and bedtime forward by half an hour, again for the first half term. You will both benefit. Don't plan too much for the first few weekends either. She really will need to chill out and relax.

You will both be fine and it sounds as though she's mastered most of the independent stuff already. Re zip, try standing behind her and showing her as that way she'll be copying you rather than watching a mirror image.

lechatnoir Tue 16-Aug-11 16:44:58

I could have written your post this time last year & now my son (heading for year 1 shock) is able to write thank you letters on his own ie not just copying and can read a huge range of early reader books. We're not quite at Harry Potter stage but something like Cat in the Hat is totally doable - oh & this has all been quite recent as I didn't notice much of a change in academic ability until the last term when it suddently all seemed to click into place.

Hope your LO enjoys it as IMO that is the most important thing in this first year.
LCN

thebird Tue 16-Aug-11 18:57:14

I was just like you OP when DD1 started school and fretted terribly about her writing and academic stuff. Honestly there is no need she sounds very capablesmile. I was less prepared for the change in behavior and the emotional stuff!

I echo the above posts about tiredness and snacks after school and also;

Perhaps limit after school play dates and activities until you see how things are going.
Don't expect too much information when you ask what did you do at school today? It comes out gradually I find.
Friends become a VERY big deal - expect some tears over 'XYZ wouldn't play with me today' (end of the world tears) and 'I had no one to play with today' (even though the teacher said they played with XYZ and had a lovely day)!?
Girls in particular are quite bossy and little sticklers for rules often telling tales on their friends (more tears).

Most of the above still applies and DD is now going into Y3! Overall its a great year of discovery and growing up and I wish I had relaxed and enjoyed it all a bit more. They have lovely imaginations and come home with some great tales so enjoy smile

pranma Tue 16-Aug-11 20:04:26

dgs will be 5 in sept so one of oldest in year group.
He can write his name and copy other words.He can count up to 99 but cant remember the word hundred so it goes....98,99,thundered!
He can dress himself,do toileting and eating with cutlery.He can recognise all the letters and say the sounds and can read some 3 letter words.He is very sociable but I think he may find full days very tiring at first.It is an anxious time-he seems so little.His mum was an August birthday so started just after her 4th birthday and she was fine.All will be well.

MayDayChild Wed 17-Aug-11 07:28:33

Re zip. I read a great tip on MN for this. Sew back the flaps around the zips so they only have to learn to get the zip onto the zipper and not hold back the material. I haven't got DD winter coat out loft yet so haven't actually road tested this one!
Plonker my DD is exactly the same with teen numbers. 11 is onety one (although she knows it makes me laugh now so is keeping it up deliberately). I vote for a change in name for 11 - very logical.

Haberdashery Wed 17-Aug-11 13:22:52

Campaspe, if it makes you feel any better my DD is also starting school in September (a week before she turns five) and she's really good on the academic stuff but absolutely crap at self-care. After much howling and a hefty dose of bribery I have managed to teach her to put her own clothes on and take them off. I've also practised turning clothes the right way out with her (tho this is a bit hit and miss but she does usually get all of them on which is all I can really hope for at the moment, I suspect). I am sure my DD's teacher will be thinking 'what a pushy parent, teaching her all this reading and writing' but honestly I barely do anything like that with her, only answer her questions as they come up. I must have spent fifty or a hundred times as long on stuff like turning a pair of leggings the right way out and wiping her bottom, things that I have seen much younger children do with ease. They all develop at different rates and in different areas at different times, and quite honestly I imagine that a year in to the whole school thing there will be very little correlation between their areas of ability/interest now and their capabilities then. I think a lot of it is just what they are interested in as DD would be perfectly able to do some of the stuff she hates doing if she could see a reason for trying (my suggested reasons cut no ice with her). Am hoping that school will give her a bit of motivation to improve the things she's bored by.

Thanks for the zip tips. I'm going to try sewing the flap parts back. Zips are currently a huge bone of contention in this household. I do wonder, you know, how I managed at school with a buttoned coat and buckles on my shoes (my brother had laces!) instead of all this velcro etc. I suppose children just learn things as they need to.

And best of luck to everyone's children for starting school. I hope we all get on all right!

MigratingCoconuts Wed 17-Aug-11 13:28:19

My DS is starting this sept and he is very excitied having seen his D sis go through it all. Its amazing how much easier it feels second time round as, not only do we know what to expect, but so does DS!

I'm glad of this thread as I am reminded of just how tired DD really did get and to brace myself for howling monster number two grin

MayDayChild Wed 17-Aug-11 20:45:05

We went swimming today and our locker was 111. DD announced it was number onety onety one ! grin

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