As a primary school teacher, it is your role to support children through some of the most important developmental stages of their entire lives. You’ll guide them through some of the most critical years of their education, supporting them as they navigate their way through brand new social interactions and experiences. During this stage, you will also guide them as they make the transition from nursery to the first years of primary school - a time which can be daunting for both children and their guardians alike.
During their time at nursery, children are exposed to a brand new learning environment and are taught a variety of valuable new skills. From learning to share toys to stimulating their motor development, nursery truly is a crucial time for children between the ages of three to five. Therefore, as a primary school teacher, it is also your responsibility to continue guiding them through the important lessons taught during these early years.
Here are just three ways to support children as they make the jump from nursery to primary school, taking into account the early foundations nursery provides for them.
1. Encourage independence
For young children, one of the most challenging aspects of going to school is the act of leaving their parents or guardians. At this age they still rely on adult assistance to complete most actions, from eating lunch to washing their hands, and so it can be troubling to be left in the care of people they don’t yet feel comfortable with. During their time at nursery, developing their personal skills and encouraging them to start becoming more independent is a crucial lesson, and is one which should be continued throughout their primary education.
There are many effective ways to incorporate these lessons into the classroom, such as teaching children from early on that they are responsible for certain tasks. One such way of doing this is by giving your pupils a task to do every day so that it becomes a routine, such as asking pupils to collect their own workbooks before lessons begin and tidying their own table at the end of the day. By allocating manageable tasks like these, your pupils will begin to take control and assume responsibility for their own actions.
2. Foster communication
Attending nursery can a big step for children in many ways, but certainly when it comes to developing communicative skills. Children will begin to interact with their peers and their teachers, giving them the opportunity to learn new vocabulary and gain communicative confidence. Making sure you create a productive learning environment centred around group work and social interaction is essential to helping your pupils continue developing such skills, and to become more confident when speaking to others.
Begin by teaching your pupils questions and phrases they should start using within your classroom. These may include
- Can I go to the bathroom, please?
- Can I have a glass of water, please?
- Can you help me, please?
By teaching such questions early on, your pupils will understand the importance of polite communication within the classroom. It will also help them gain confidence when asking for assistance, by giving them phrases to learn and become comfortable with.
Another great way to stimulate productive conversation within the classroom is to encourage group work and classwork. You could ask them to identify the names of farmyard animals in pairs or perhaps end the day with a short classroom game - whatever encourages them to work together and practise the new vocabulary they’ve been taught.
The jump from nursery to primary school can be particularly challenging for children who struggle to sit still. At nursery, children have plenty of time to run around and play. However, heading into primary school means that pupils have to learn how to sit still and concentrate. This can be difficult, so it’s important to make sure that you incorporate ways of staying active into your lesson plans to make sure your pupils don’t get distracted. A child’s physical development is just as important as their social and emotional development, so making sure they aren’t forced to remain stationary throughout the day is crucial.
There are many ways to do this; in fact, you’ll find that you’re able to encourage physical activity in the majority of your lessons without causing disruption. Doing so could be as simple as calling volunteers to complete sequences on the whiteboard, or asking your pupils to stand up every time they answer a question. You could also allow your pupils to have frequent breaks, such as by playing a game of “Teacher Says” between lessons or stretching at their seats. This gives them the opportunity to move about while allowing you to retain control of the class.
About the author
Sophie Smith works at a small day school and boarding school located in Lucton catering to girls and boys aged from 6 months to 18 years.