We’re pleased to share this short-animated film, in English, Urdu, Sylheti, Somali and Polish, for parents to help prepare their early years children for starting school, which we’ve made as part of our Schools with Roots project.
The film features 10 simple things that all parents can teach their child to do at home before starting reception; from wiping and blowing their own nose, to dressing themselves and going to the toilet independently. Anyone who has tried to persuade a four-year-old to get dressed on their own in the morning knows that these things are by no means simple! However, if children start reception with these skills, then the transition to school is much easier, for both children and families, and other learning can start much more quickly.
This is particularly important given that as a recent report from the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) has shown - school closures over lockdown will have widened the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, likely reversing progress made over the last decade.
The EEF report makes it clear that schools engaging and communicating effectively with parents will be a key part in supporting the children most likely to fall behind - and that this communication from schools will play an important role in academic outcomes for all ages.
This will be important in helping parents and carers to understand specific ways to help their children, to alleviate worries about their child falling behind, and to provide accessible guidance on small things that may be helpful for their child to focus on learning at home.
We work to do this through this short film through:
Offering accessible advice - presented through graphics and simple messaging. Many parents will not speak in English so sending long home letters will be ineffective and stressful for parents who want to understand how they can support their child.
Translating the film into different languages so families can easily follow along.
Providing a poster version of the film so that this can be shared with families who don’t have the internet at home - and to provide a helpful visual aid for children.
Lockdown has been a challenging time for all parents and carers and small children, and as Public Health England’s report showed this week, the pandemic has impacted some communities far worse than others. The disproportionate impact of coronavirus on black and brown communities specifically has highlighted longstanding inequalities that these communities face in health, housing, education and employment, and shone a light on structural racism in the UK. This combination of inequalities means that the mental wellbeing and physical health of many parents and children has suffered considerably during lockdown. In this context, how schools communicate with families becomes more important than ever.
We’ve developed this film in partnership with Sandringham primary school in Newham. We hope that it will be useful for lots of primary schools and families in light of the many challenges that lockdown has brought for families and children preparing to start school next year.