Sarah's Thoughts The Voice Sarah's Thoughts

I have read with great interest the recent developments this week relating to pre schools skills for children across the UK.

“The 10 skills a child must have by the time they start school including being toilet trained and talking in sentences: Ofsted call for checklist to be issued to all parents”

Laura Clark, Times Online

Sir Michael Wilshaw Chief Inspector of Schools In England and head of Ofsted since January 2012, has said

  • Too many children start education unprepared

  • Some skills are ‘intuitively taught’ whereas some parents fail to do so

  • More places for two-year-olds at school-based nurseries are required

Every parent should be issued with a ten-point checklist of skills that their children must master before their first day at school:

  1. To sit still and listen

  2. To be aware of other children

  3. To understand the word ‘no’ and the boundaires it sets for behaviour

  4. To understand the word ‘stop’ and that such a phrase might be used to prevent danger

  5. To be potty trained and to be able to go to the loo

  6. To recongise their own name

  7. To speak to an adult and ask for help

  8. To be able to take off their coat and shoes

  9. To talk in sentences

  10. To open and enjoy a book

Launching Ofsted’s first report into early-years education, he said that while many parents ‘intuitively’ teach children vital skills, others fail to do so, condemning their offspring to struggle at school.

With this in mind it led me to reflect on how many Pre school children struggle with these skills, without having a speech, language or communication difficulty or without having a fine or gross motor coordination difficulty?

In fact we know that many Pre schoolers simply do struggle with these skills.

Could it be that our fast paced lifestyle makes less time for interacting as a family, sitting down together for dinner and encouraging our children to be more independent with dressing and self care.  Lets be honest we all know that when facing the morning routine it is often quicker to do all of these things for our pre school children.

Could it be that the advances in technology – the use of tablets and smart phones make it less likely that a pre school and school aged child will have the chance to enjoy reading books?

So is this tick list of skills too much to expect.  Will we soon find the development of school readiness groups to prepare pre schoolers for school and to support parents in the fundamental skills which will become to be expected?

We should surely then look towards  the percentage of pre schoolers who are likely to have a speech, language and communication difficulty, as well as difficulties with fine and gross motor skills to know that these pre schoolers will struggle with these skills upon entering school.

This checklist certainly highlights the valuable role of a speech and language therapist in supporting not only early communication development but more targeted therapy support for those with identified needs.

Sarah Davis

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