Clear, simple and high-quality resources that inform parents about how they can effectively support their child’s transition into school or nursery have been welcomed by both parents and the educational community. There is an appetite for support and information of this kind, and a need to ensure that whatever resources are available, are marketed and distributed widely to all families via a range of different platforms yearly.
The NOA started by dividing the problem into two halves:
1. Children who were starting school without the necessary skills and needed to easily access their Early Years foundation stage (EYFS) curriculum.
2. Parents who wanted to support their child’s transition into primary school but didn’t know how best to do this.
From here, two small projects were formed:
First, through our ‘School-Readiness’ project, the NOA in collaboration with Norfolk County Council’s (NCC) Early Years Team, Family Learning Team and Library Service, created 5 short videos showing families 50 free and fun activities that they could do at home with their children, to help them develop ‘school-readiness’ skills. Each of these 5 videos contained 10 different activities and each video was based on one of the key Early Years areas of learning. Once created, these activity videos were shared with families via a multitude of organisations and online platforms. The videos can be accessed in the resource section on this page.
Second, through our ‘Transition Top Tips’ project, the NOA in collaboration with NCC’s Early Years Team, created 1 short video and an accompanying leaflet, detailing 10 ways in which parents can support their children to have a smooth transition into their new primary school or setting. This video was shared with families alongside our 5 school-readiness videos mentioned above, and the paper leaflet was distributed to all Norwich Early Years Settings and Early Childhood and Family bases. The video and a postcard version of the leaflet can be be accessed in the resource section on this page.
This year, we hope to re-promote all of our Early Years transition resources and gain further feedback from parents and professionals.
To address school readiness, the NOA worked with Local Authority Early Years Advisors to firstly ascertain what it means to be ‘school-ready’. This process involved looking at the EYFS framework and thinking about what skills children needed upon school entry to actively engage with their Early Years curriculum. From here, we collectively thought about how these skills could be fostered in the home learning environment and what types of activities and games would support children’s learning. As discussions continued, it was decided that we would focus on children’s skills and learning in five key areas: Communication & Language, Physical Development, Literacy, Numeracy, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
As we began to amass an abundance of simple and fun activities that parents could do at home with their children to develop their skills in these five key areas, we brought in colleagues from NCC’s Early Years Team, Family Learning Team and Library Service to share their knowledge and expertise. One common theme that soon became apparent was the need for all of our activities to be possible using ‘free and found’ resources. This was so that all families, including those in financial hardship, could access these ideas.
We then proceeded to discuss how best to share these activity ideas with our target families. Given the low levels of adult literacy in some of our NOA wards, it was agreed that short subtitled videos would be the best option. As a result, the NOA procured the services of local company Archant, who were able to work with us over a matter of weeks to bring our vision to life. After further discussions with our working group and the filming company, we decided to create one video per area of learning thus we would end up with five short videos, each detailing 10 simple activities.
After our 5 school readiness videos had been created and carefully pieced together, they were shared with families via a multitude of platforms including the website and social media pages for the NOA, Family Learning, The Library Service, The Early Years Team, The Family Information Service, The Early Childhood and Family Service, Just One Norfolk, local schools and settings and the CCC team. We also worked collaboratively with the Eastern Daily Press to publish an online article about our new school-readiness videos for families, which reached 88, 648 people via their EDP Facebook Page. This year, we plan to continue the promotion of these resources and seek further qualitative feedback from families and professionals.
To begin our second project, the NOA sought the knowledge and expertise of the Early Years Transition Leads and Home Learning Advisors at NCC. Together, using our collective experiences of working with families and settings over a number of years, we began to list all of the simple things that parents could do at home to support their children’s transition into school or nursery. This ranged from establishing an appropriate morning and bedtime routine, to practising the journey to and from school.
Gradually, we defined this list to 10 top tips and from here, as we did in the school-readiness project, we discussed how best to share this information with our parents and carers. Similarly, after some deliberation, we decided to create a short ‘Top Tips’ video as this seemed like the most accessible option for families with poor literacy skills. As a group we also felt that a transition video could easily be shared online and via social media in future years, plus it incurred no extra future costs once the video had been made. By continuing to work with local company Archant, we produced our video in line with our five school-readiness videos, using similar formatting and styling.
In addition to this sixth video, we also wanted to create an accompanying physical resource so that we could share our transition message with families who did not have access to the internet. As a result, we worked with local company TEN Creative to design a leaflet which would contain all of the same top tips as the video but in a slightly more concise way. Throughout this design process, we continued to work closely with Norfolk County Council to ensure that the wording and visuals used were in keeping with wider Early Years resources.
After the leaflet was created and signed off by all parties involved, printed copies were then sent to all Norwich-based nursery settings and Early Childhood and Family Service bases for distribution to families. We also sent out 3000 leaflets to wider Norfolk families via Norfolk County Council’s Talk and Play packs and 4000 leaflets to wider Norfolk families via the Libraries Bookstart packs. Our transition video was shared alongside our 5 school readiness videos, via the same range of platforms previously mentioned.