With many families preparing for 4+ assessments, this month's blog
considers the decisions of parents whose children are approaching school
for the first time. What do 4+ assessments involve? How can you prepare? We liaised with one of our expert primary consultants, Sabine Hook,
to go over this and other considerations, with the hope of reducing any
anxieties you may have around your child applying for their first
Sending your child off to school for the first time is a moment full of pride, but getting to that point might seem a daunting undertaking. You want your child to be happy and fulfilled in their new school, whilst knowing that if they get into an academically strong institution now, it will help them going forward. London is particularly competitive for school places and so you want to take every opportunity to see them gain an edge.
The best way to approach school entrance for your young child is to focus on their general happiness and growth. The rest will take care of itself. Having said that, there are some broad decisions and questions that we can usefully identify for you.
The 4+ Assessment and How To Prepare
There is great variety among 4+ assessments. Some test more ‘academic’ skills, such as pen holding, but the majority are more general. They usually consist of a variety of learning games and exercises in a classroom environment, working with other children and following instructions. Teachers are looking for sociability and teachability in particular, so it is about behaviour, partly, but also about your child’s emotional readiness for school. Are they happy being left for an hour without a parent, for example?
You might therefore be wondering how to prepare your child for a 4+ assessment best. The simple answer is to do all the usual things a parent does to help their child develop and thrive. Talking with them, playing with them, reading them stories, encouraging them to count things around them. Getting your child into a good nursery will also help with the transition to Reception. Our blog, choosing between nurseries, provides a helpful overview of the steps to consider when choosing a good nursery. If the nursery sees your child as someone who will thrive in a certain school, they can often recommend your child to schools even if the 4+ assessment doesn’t go so well.
In the Autumn, we will also be hosting our 4+ Group Assessments, which will complement the day-to-day interactions you are already having with your child. Led by our Early Years Consultant, Himali, our 4+ Group Assessments are 1-hour long, activity-based sessions that provide experience in assessments associated with schools such as Alleyn’s, Bute House and Dulwich Prep. The workshops will focus on the key communication and development milestones taken into consideration during the 4+ assessment stage and will be followed up with 1-2-1 verbal feedback and a written report.
Once preparations for these assessments have taken place, it is vital to remember not to place too much emphasis on a school’s decision at this stage. The 4+ is a one-hour assessment of a toddler in what for them will be a strange environment. There is no rush for your child to get into the perfect school and a 4+ assessment is not going to be an indicator of a child’s ultimate potential.
As always, if you have any questions about 4+ assessment or any of our other tuition or consultancy services, please do not hesitate to get in touch.