How does Toddler Tennis prepare your child for ‘big school’.

With September fast approaching there will be lots of 4 year olds preparing to transition from nursery to ‘big school’. This can be an exciting yet anxious time for both children and their families. With over 70% of parents feeling anxious about this move (PACEY, 2019). Tamsin Grimmer’s book ‘School Readiness and the characteristics of effective learning’ brilliantly describes a recipe for preparing your child for school. “A teaspoon of listening, an inkling of independence, a scoop of confidence, a cup of communication and a teaspoon of resilience”.

With these ingredients in mind, we wanted to reflect on how the Toddler Tennis programme, and the characteristic we teach, help develop these ‘school readiness’ skills. Hopefully making the transition from nursery to school a smooth and happy one.

1. Listening & Following Instructions

Toddler Tennis has an element of structure which requires children to listen and follow simple instructions. For example, we have ‘tidy up time’. This involves the children listening to where each piece of equipment has to go and then following the instructions accordingly. With schools averaging 25- 30 children in a class and only 2 teachers. It is going to be vital that your child can listen and follow these instructions.

2. Concentration

A lot of the activities we do at Toddler Tennis requires a level of concentration, on a specific task, over a period of time. For example, balancing a ball on your racket requires the ability to watch the ball, use gentle racket movements and focus on the task at hand. Even the loudest of children fall silent when they try to do this activity. This is because they are having to concentrate. The ability to focus on small tasks at school becomes very important. From doing your buttons up, to learning your numbers – it all needs a level of concentration.

3. Ability to Work With Others

Some of the activities we do at Toddler Tennis requires children to work as a team to achieve the desired outcome. With activities like floor tennis, we begin to teach them that sometimes hitting the ball as hard as you can isn’t as fun when you are trying to work with a partner. It teaches them to put aside their urges (to hit the ball as hard as they can) for the sake of others and the team. Being a team player in school will help tremendously both practically and socially because there are now 30 other children to consider.

4. Resilience

This is “the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and keep going when somethingdoesn’t go your way”. Toddler Tennis teaches young children to be resilient because they don’t necessarily succeed straight away. Many of the skills we teach are difficult for this age group like throwing, catching and hitting a ball with a racket. Therefore, we teach them that it requires an element of listening, watching and practice in order to crack the skill. Resilience at school will help your child have a positive outlook on learning and not to give up when they don’t get it right first time.

5. Taking in Turns

We have a 1 to 4 coach ratio at Toddler Tennis. This means that sometimes, especially when we are coaching a tennis specific shot, children will have to be in a small line. It teaches children to take it in turns and wait your turn. At school, children have a limited amount of resources which requires them to share and wait there turn. Having the ability to understand this prior to starting will prevent stressful conflicts occurring with other children at school.

6. Builds Confidence and Independence

Toddler Tennis is a great way for your child to take the first steps into independence. Although parents are watching, the children do most of the activities on their own. When our pre-schoolers become successful at doing these activities on their own, their confidence increases, and they become more capable. As a result, I have many who go from shy, anxious and clingy children to confident, outgoing and independent young people.