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Prep School Blog

Prep School Blog

How to Help Your Child Get Ready for School - Rachel Lucas – Wellington School Nursery Teacher

I could not possibly cover all the important skills young children need in order to flourish because that would require a lengthy document covering all areas of the EYFS. However, I often get asked about skills children need before they begin school. This is a tricky area. Before I give some suggestions, I think it would be useful for me to firstly stress that all children are uniquely different and will develop at different rates. A good analogy to illustrate this point is ‘Popcorn’. To make it, you simply put oil into a pan and add the corn kernels, pop on a lid and wait for the delicious magic to happen. Some pop quickly, others more slowly and some pop right at the end when you least expect it! Whatever the stage of the ‘pop’, the popcorn tastes just as delicious and exactly the same. My point is that children are very much like this, they will all pop in the end! It is not the speed of development that is important, children do not learn in a linear way. They need time to re-fine skills, re-visit activities to consolidate their understanding, build resilience, self-efficacy, adapt, and bounce back when things are difficult.  With the above firmly in mind, the following are skills that children would benefit from having before starting school. It is not designed to be a tick  list, simply some pointers and suggested ways in which you could support your child.  

1. To be focused on a story and listen well without becoming distracted. You could ask open ended questions after the story like ‘I wonder what happened next?’

2. To be independent with self-help skills. For example, being able to take jumpers on and off, and being able to go to the toilet, pull the flush and wash hands with soap independently. Use words of encouragement ‘you are really trying, well done, you will soon be able to do that by yourself.’ 

3. To be emotionally aware of their feelings and other children’s. Help your child to use their words to describe how they feel and offer key vocabulary to support them. For example, ‘You look upset, would you like to tell me what happened so I can help?’ Before starting school, talk about sharing, turn taking and getting along with others. Telling a trusted adult about what has happened is better than physically hurting someone in retaliation.

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

5. To talk in sentences and follow simple instructions.

6.To be able to recognise your name, not necessarily to write it, although that is a helpful skill if your child is ready.

7.To talk about school in a positive way only if your child brings up the subject. Please do not make a huge thing of going to big school. This can cause anxiety, so sound very ‘matter of fact’ about it. 

8.To ask a member of staff for help. Teach your child that it’s ok to ask if you need help, especially on the playground or in situations that are unfamiliar. The school family are there to help and support your child. 


Residentials And Why We Love Them At Wellington Prep School - Vics Richardson - Head of Prep

The Summer Term is ‘Residential Season’ here at Wellington Prep. Starting in Year 3, all children get the opportunity to experience a residential trip.  These trips increase in duration from one night away to four nights by the time children reach Year 6.

The impact of these trips lasts long after a child’s time at school and are an integral part of an holistic education.

Our Year 3 and 4 trips are designed to support learning from the classroom, with learning often more easily recalled if using unusual or interactive activities these residentials can be really helpful in engaging visual or hands-on learners.

Year 3‘s residential takes place at a beautiful Elizabethan manor set in magnificent grounds with modern dormitories. The one-night stay is the perfect introduction to residentials where the children are involved in a range of History, Science and Outdoor Education activities. These adventures support and enhance the curriculum, whilst providing new perspectives and wider context for the children to think about.

In Year 4 the children visit an Environmental Education Centre on an organic farm. Children are inspired to learn in an exciting environment, surrounded by nature and animals in peaceful countryside. There is a consistent focus throughout the Year 4 curriculum on the environment and this residential is a perfect opportunity for the children to see their classwork in action.

Residentials can often be the first taste of independence for a child. As they are conducted in a safe and positive environment surrounded by familiar faces, they are a real boost to your child’s self-confidence.

At Wellington Prep Year 3 children are awarded an ‘Adventure Award’ to recognise their first school night away.

"We got a good night’s sleep – the beds were comfortable. The rooms were just right.” – A Well-rested Pupil

Residentials encourage children to develop new friendships and face new challenges which all add to their personal and social development.  The satisfaction and pleasure of trying something new has a positive impact throughout a child’s life.  Challenges that take a child out of their comfort zone, but within a safe environment, feed into personal growth and encourage children to try new things. 

In Year 5, our outdoor activities week includes two days of onsite and close to school adventures returning to school for normal pick-up times.  From Wednesday to Friday, the children travel to an Outdoor Education Centre to take part in a range of exciting activities: mountain biking, climbing, archery, and grass-sledging to name but a few, sleeping overnight in cabins.


New experiences whether locally or overseas help children develop perspective on the world they live in. Year 6 travel to Jersey, by ferry, for a week-long residential. Linking to the History and English curriculum the children look at how the country was occupied during the Second World War, visit the zoo founded by Gerald Durrell and explore the culture and the stunning beaches. This bespoke trip has a specific itinerary designed to maximise our time and areas of interest for our Year 6s.

“The war tunnels were very interesting. We saw what Jersey was like under Nazi occupation. It made you think.” – A Curious Pupil

Some lessons in life cannot be taught in the classroom. Our Wellington School purpose is to ensure that the pupils leave school equipped with everything they need to thrive.

We need to ensure that they acquire knowledge, earn suitable credentials, learn crucial skills and develop appropriate competencies. It is also vital that we support the development of our children’s good character. Residentials provide a platform on which the children can build on classroom experience and knowledge to continue to challenge themselves.


“At the end of the Residential disco everyone danced to ‘Sweet Caroline’ The whole residential was ‘so good, so good, so good’.” – An Appreciative Pupil



Developing a Love of Science in Young Children - Stuart Benjafield - Science Lead Wellington Prep School

Encouraging children to be naturally curious about the world around them and foster a sense of wonder about natural phenomena helps develop curiosity in children.

A sense of curiosity encourages children to develop and use a range of working scientific skills including questioning, researching and observing for themselves.  

At Wellington Prep School, a love of science is developed in a number of ways.  Our Science Lead, Stuart Benjafield, outlines his 5 top tips below for getting young children interested in Science.


1. Provide a Stimulating, Engaging and Challenging Learning Environment  
Here at Wellington Prep School, we are lucky to have a well-resourced space especially designed for science - The Awe and Wonder Lab. With its versatile, splash proof flooring, brightly-coloured drawers of resources, sink, water and scientific displays including the periodic table there is no barrier to teaching and learning.  We can plan any experiment to achieve our learning goals using materials such as water without fear of damaging our surroundings, making for a relaxed, exciting learning experience.  So, make sure you set up your science learning somewhere that allows children to experience infinite possibilities like using water and sand to see the wave power of a tsunami without worrying about overflowing water!


2. Use, Build On and Revisit Scientific Language
Use key scientific language throughout science discussions, such as explore, investigate, experiment.  This enables children to be familiar with and use vocabulary accurately and develop a broad vocabulary. This in turn helps them communicate their ideas effectively and understand the ideas of others, so be sure to revisit and recap key vocabulary.  At Wellington Prep we use Taboo cards, which ask children to describe a word without using certain words.  



3. Find Out What Your Child Already Understands and Wants to Find Out

At Wellington Prep, our teachers use this method which allows them to adapt and extend the learning to match children’s interests and needs. So, ask the question what do you know about tornadoes and do you know how tornadoes happen? 

A picture board can be an ideal way to extract information a child already knows – remember there are no mistakes, encourage a child to share as much as they can without fear of getting it wrong.  Then when children tackle an experiment they will have the courage to question what’s happening and why they think it may be happening. 



4. Plan Questions to Ask Your Young Scientist

Think ahead about the questions you will ask when having fun with Science.  Ask ‘Big Questions’ to extend a child’s thinking. For example, what would life be like without any light? This will help you to understand what they have learnt or you can ask the question in a different way to help them discuss what they know. 



5. Promote and Celebrate Working Scientific Skills

Throughout Wellington Prep School children are encouraged to develop and use a range of working scientific skills including questioning, researching and observing for ourselves.  You can encourage children to work independently providing the opportunity for them to make predictions, conduct experiments and record results.  Ask them what they thought would happen and what has happened – celebrate their observations and praise experiments that don’t go as well as they thought.  Learn that mistakes can be learnt from and built on.  Get children to discuss, plan and create experiments to answer their big questions.


We all want our children to wonder and be amazed and surprised by the world around them.  So, if you want to keep your child curious and develop a love of science follow some of these ideas from Wellington Prep School’s Science Lead; find out what they know already and what they want to know about, ask them big questions, use scientific vocabulary, gather resources and create a space to experiment together. Preparing for the future with skills, confidence and knowledge for the jobs that don’t even exist yet.

To learn more about the curriculum and Science at Wellington Prep School visit 

Further Resources
If you’re looking for ideas to develop your child’s love of science then try some of these resources recommended by our Science Lead;

The Association of Science Education

We've teamed up with the RSPB |

Science Sparks

The Royal Institution

Live animal webcams

Learning for Life Enrichment Programme 

At Wellington School Nursery we are fortunate to have a superb range of facilities and staff. As a result, we are able to offer an exceptional and unique package of educational enrichment opportunities to our nursery children; our ‘Learning for Life’ enrichment programme. You can see the sorts of activities on offer in the video below.



Guided Play in Nursery

Our Nursery Teacher, Mrs Rachel Lucas, has put together this pictoral blog on the benefits of guided play.  This is an approach we use in our Nursery for 3 and 4 year olds.