If you are a teacher and have just had the six weeks off school then you will probably not be particularly looking forward to returning soon. Often teachers return to school a few days before the pupils do so that they have time to get their classrooms ready and to have meetings to find out about changes and updates that may affect them.
It is important to get yourself back into your normal work routine at least a few days before returning to work, so if you have enjoyed laying in until 10 am or heading off to bed at 2 am you may want to start to adjust slowly the week or so before you go back. This will allow your body clock time to adjust and get used to your sleep pattern again.
Rather than thinking about the negatives of returning to work, try and think positively and give yourself some goals as to what you want to achieve in the year to come. Making lists of to do tasks can help organise a cluttered mine. You may want to make daily or weekly ones as well as long-term lists for the next few months or year ahead.
For a lot of children when they start school is when their education starts and they begin without being able to read or write and will little understanding of counting and math. However, the children who have already started their education from an early age at home are given a much greater advantage in class and tend to advance much quicker than those with little to no past education experience.
So where do you start?
Studies show that you really can begin early with children as young as 6 months old. Simple exercises such as number recognition with blocks is a great place to start. Lay 3 blocks in a row, then stack 3 on top of each other, then place them on the floor in a pattern and show your child each time saying “there are 3 blocks” this teaches them what “3” looks like in physical terms, you can then try with different amounts of blocks.
Showing them written numbers from 1-10 will also help their understanding.
To help start their communication skills early it can be useful to attend baby signing classes, this teaches your baby a very basic form of a sign that they can use to communicate with you before their speech has developed. Generally, babies that learn to sign tend to speak much sooner and have a larger vocabulary.
So start early and make it a game that way learning new skills will be fun for both you and your child.
As a teacher of a reception class, you may well know how hard it can be to get the attention of all of the class at the same time. Children often have a shorter attention span than adults and will quite easily get distracted.
IF you are wanting the children to listen carefully then you may need to raise your voice a little, to begin with, to get them to look at you. Some teachers then talk quieter so the children have to concentrate to hear what is being said. Another useful tip to gain the attention of the children is to use a musical instrument e.g. a jingle bell to get the children to stop. This saves your voice and provides an effective method of stopping the children.
You cannot expect reception children to be quite all the time but it is important to teach them when it is ok for them to be noisy or to be chatting and when they need to sit down and listen quietly. These lessons will help them throughout their life, even in their adult working life where they may need to remain quiet when their manager speaks or to listen to a customer’s concerns.
The job of a teaching assistant can vary depending on the school and the teacher you are working with. Each school, although having to adhere to strict guidelines, can still to an extent change some of the ways in which the school is run. If you have previously been a teaching assistant in a school and then move to another you may have to learn to work in a different way.
It is important early on to establish what your job role entails exactly so you do not overstep the mark with the teacher and also so you do not miss any important tasks that you should be doing.
You may be given task such as creating displays, organising worksheets, collecting and giving out books, hearing children read and possibly taking a small group of children to work with during lesson time. If there is a pupil who has learning difficulties then you may be responsible for working with them the majority of the time.
Some teaching assistants that have teaching experience may be asked to cover the class for a short period if the teacher is away on a course or off ill for example.
Safeguarding children is something that all teachers should be trained on and it’s important to keep up to date with the latest methods and advice to ensure that you are compliant with current legislation. This can be tricky however when you are in an unfamiliar school as a supply teacher.
Now some people may think that this is not an important aspect of supply work however it is essential that no matter how long or short you are responsible for that class you do your utmost to ensure that the safeguarding standards of the school are upheld.
The first thing to do is to familiarise yourself with the schools safeguarding standards and procedures so that you are equipped with the information should you need to use it. This is just as important as reading over the fire drill procedures and the first aid information so should not be overlooked.
As a new unknown adult in a position of responsibility, you may also actually be in a position where a child is more likely to approach you with an issue relating to safeguarding as there are less embarrassment and fear of judgment from someone who is completely unknown to them and they may not see again.