In less than a week, over 600,000 four-year-olds[1] will start school for the first time and new research from PACEY shows most parents feel anxious about their child starting school. Many said they believed they were more worried than their child.

In particular, the parents surveyed wanted more support preparing for school, with one in four (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.

CPD support for childcare professionals

PACEY, the professional body for over 35,000 childminders, nannies and nursery workers across England and Wales, 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 and are hosted on www.pacey.org.uk and also available via Netmums.

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.

The value of strong partnerships

She continues: “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 childminder, nursery worker or nanny. Our resources can be used by parents, childcare professionals and teachers to get ready for school.

“We also hope, thanks to our partnership with Netmums, that more parents will be aware of the support their childcare professional can provide, not just in their child’s pre-school years but in the weeks and months that follow them starting school.”

Results vary by region

The survey results also revealed significant regional and demographic variations. For example, over 80% of London parents responded that they would like more support to help with school preparation, compared with just over half overall. 20% of younger parents (aged between 18 and 24) claimed that ‘increased academic pressures’ on their child when starting school were of greatest concern, compared to just 4% overall.

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.

[1] Department for Education, March 2013 http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/10089-001_Capital-funding-for-new-school-places-Executive-summary.pdf

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