Next week, over 600,000 four-year-olds will start school for the first time and new research has revealed that many parents are feeling anxious about their child’s first day of school.

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Research carried out by PACEY, the professional body for over 35,000 childminders, nannies and nursery workers across England and Wales, revealed that 71% of parents felt anxious about their child starting school- many parents admitting to being more worried than their child.

In particular the parents surveyed wanted more support preparing for school, with 23% claiming that they received too little information from schools and local authorities.

Parents were most concerned about their child settling into the routine of school, making friends and coping with bullying.

Vicky Hopkinson's, 34, from Bedfordshire, daughter will be starting school in September 2014 and shares how she is building her child’s confidence and getting her ready for the first day of school.

“The school my daughter will be attending is a mixed nursery and reception class, so I feel that it’s important to build her confidence. In the build up to the first day we’ve started talking about school and encouraging her to practice some of the practical skills like going to the toilet by herself, writing her name and learning pencil control. I think she may struggle initially with the long day and other little things, and settling into a new routine well will be one of the challenges. I feel that local authority information on helping to get your child ‘school ready’ could be made more accessible – it’s there if you know where to look, but not everyone will be aware that it is available.

“There will definitely be a few nerves on the first day itself. My daughter will wander in and be quite happy on her first day, so I’d say that we’ll be more anxious than she is, given that it’s the parents who are aware of what some the challenges might be later on! We’re happy that she’s going to a school she likes, although it does feel a bit early. I strongly feel that the emphasis should be on play based learning in reception year and on developing the right social and emotional skills to help children thrive later on.”

PACEY has recognised these concerns and created a new set of resources to help parents equip their children with the key social, emotional and physical skills to thrive at school. The resources, based on PACEY’s existing training and continuous professional development (CPD) support for childcare professionals, include factsheets, videos and activity sheets for children.

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said: “We know that the first day of school can be a real cause of anxiety for many parents and that getting the support you need can be difficult. Our research shows parents are most worried about their child’s physical, social and emotional readiness to start school. Only 4% were concerned about how their child will cope with increased academic pressures – a finding that is at odds with an ever increasing policy focus on educational attainment in a child’s early years.”

She added: “Childcare professionals play a key role in supporting children and their families to prepare for this important transition in life. So we have developed new resources to give parents the information they need and help strengthen the partnership between parents and their child minder, nursery worker or nanny. Our resources can be used by parents, childcare professionals and teachers to get ready for school.”

Last year PACEY published a research report, working in collaboration with NUT and Netmums, which found that the vast majority of teachers, parents and childcare professionals agreed ‘school readiness’ is best defined through children’s ability to demonstrate confidence, curiosity and a willingness to learn.

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