Starting school can be exciting and possibly overwhelming for parents, never mind for children. There are lots of simple things you can do to help prepare your child, making the transition smoother for both of you.
Essential skills children need
You may think it’s important for your child to be able to write their name, count or read simple words when they start in Reception, but in fact it’s the following skills that are really important for your child to master to be ready for school:
- Be able to go to the toilet independently, wipe themselves properly afterwards and wash their hands.
- Be able to dress and undress themselves
- Use a knife and fork
- Be able to follow a simple task or request
Take a look at our guide for toilet training children with sensory needs.
If children aren’t ready physically and emotionally for school, it can affect their learning and their play, so taking the time to help them prepare is definitely time well spent.
How can I help my child be ready for school?
There are lots of things you can do in the months leading up to the start of school to reduce any anxiety your child may be feeling. For example:
- Read books about school (see the list below for some good suggestions), and look at the school prospectus and website together
- Look at old photos of family members starting school and share some positive memories you have of primary school
- Talk about all the things they will enjoy, like painting, playing in the playground and making new friends
- Some children will find it helpful to have a calendar which shows which days they go to school and which days they are at home. As they start school, you can add other details like after school or breakfast clubs, or days they do P.E. to help them understand their routine
- Take time to choose and label clothing, book bags and lunch boxes together
- Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep each night. Talk to your Health Visitor if you need help with getting them in a good routine, or with any other issues you may be struggling with such as encouraging your child to stop using a dummy or helping them to be fully toilet trained
Take a look at this video to see some of the key skills you can work on together with your child, so that you’re both feeling happy and confident when their first day arrives:
As your child starts school, visit our Health for Kids website, which has lots of health information, games and useful links for primary school children and their parents/carers.
Useful picture books about starting school:
- I Am Too Absolutely Small For School (Charlie and Lola) by Lauren Child
- Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
- Topsy and Tim Start School by Jean and Gareth Adamson
- Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow
Remember, you can order and borrow these (and other books about starting school) from your local library.