Preparing your child for starting school
Starting school is an exciting time for young children and their parents, carers or guardians. It can be a daunting time, too. But with a little preparation and encouragement, most children will settle in easily at school.
Our childcare professionals have a great deal of experience in helping children to cope with times of transition. We have produced some factsheets, packed with easy and enjoyable activity ideas to give your child a gentle introduction to the listening, communicating, mark-making and number work they’ll do in reception. You’ll find the links to them in the menu bar on the right-hand side of this page. We hope they help you both start school with a smile!
The most useful thing you can do to get your child ready for school is to make sure they are comfortable doing simple tasks by themselves. This includes:
- Going to the toilet. Resist the temptation to pop your child onto the loo and wipe their bottom. It is better to get your child into the habit of doing this for themselves.
- Getting dressed. Avoid clothing with fiddly buckles and buttons. It is also a good idea to have a few dry runs with the PE Kit!
- Putting on shoes. Tie-up shoes might be a bit difficult. Go for shoes with Velcro fasteners if possible.
- Eating. This includes using a knife and fork, opening their lunchbox, and being able to open everything in the lunchbox (some yoghurt tubes and drink cartons can be tricky).
- Solving simple problems. Encourage your child to resolve problems by talking when they don’t understand or something isn’t going well. It is important that they also learn when to ask an adult for help.
Talking about the exciting things your child is going to do at school helps them get over any nerves. You could:
- Visit the school. Our schools have induction visits for children to meet their new teacher and spend time in the classroom. If you can’t attend one of these, do ask to have a tour with your child. Walking or driving past the school at the end of the school day and watching children come out in uniform can also be very exciting!
- Talk about how fun school is! If you’ve been on a settling-in morning, there might be something your child particularly enjoyed playing with (the dinosaurs, the paints, the climbing frame). Older siblings could be enlisted to share all the things they enjoy about school – as long as they’re thoroughly briefed not to share things they’re not so keen on! Giving your child time to talk also lets them raise any concerns or questions.
- Practise the school routine. It can be helpful to do a practice journey before the big day, looking for interesting things on the way. It might be a good idea to make sure your child has school-friendly bedtimes and getting-up times a few days in advance.
Above all - don’t worry! Your child doesn’t need to be able to read, write or do sums before they start school. Children start school with a wide range of abilities and their teacher will be skilled at helping children progress at their own level. What’s most important is that you and your child have fun together in those preschool months and years – sharing stories, singing songs, playing games and talking about anything and everything.