School Children Blog
In November and December 2021 YouGov and the early years charity, Kindred2 carried out an online survey with nearly 1000 primary school teachers. The results showed that half of reception pupils, were not ready to start school. The survey identified that a number of pupils lacked the basic skills they need to start school.
Considering what children have been through over the past two years or more, it’s important to recognise that children have missed vital opportunities needed to learn these basic skills.
Children learn through observation and exploration. It just so happens, that these children that are entering school at the foundation stages, have in fact missed out on some important learning/development experiences. Community groups, clubs and parties were off limits, and children lost the opportunity to develop their skills in sharing, making friendships, conversation and simply playing and having fun with their peers. We know that we start to learn and understand thoughts and feelings through non-verbal communication from a young age. For this group of children, this has been hindered through the use of facial coverings.
Children also learn about danger, risk taking and excitement through activities such as playing in playgrounds on play equipment e.g. swings and roundabouts. At the height of the pandemic the playgrounds were closed and play equipment removed, so children couldn’t experience these basic life lessons. The consequence of this is, children may be less likely to take risks or have a greater sense of danger.
As a result of missing out on these learning and socialisation opportunities, parents/care givers may find that their child have developed separation anxiety or safety behaviours that can in turn cause parents and carers to become concerned. It’s important to remind ourselves however, that for this generation of children, social isolation and caution in new/busy places is their ‘normal’. Children’s perceptions of the world around us is likely to be very different to that of ours. It may take time and patience to get them to acquire the basic skills they need to navigate their school years but it’s important to recognise that many children are in the same situation.
If you are worried speak to the school or your health visitor about your concerns. They will be able to give you suggestions on what you can do to support the child in their transition.
If you are feeling anxious about them starting school try not to show this to your child, if your child sees that you are anxious they are likely to mirror your behaviours. Think about making connections with other parents/carers that have children starting school at the same time and meeting up to ease the transition.
Try not to panic and remember that this is a shared problem that many other children/families are experiencing.
Finally, be patient. Children are incredibly capable of adapting to change and catching up – more than we sometimes give them credit for.