Updated: Jun 22
Starting school is such an exciting time and a big step for children, but what are the key things that you can do as a parent to help your child really be ready for school that make a real difference?
1. Ensure that they can recognise their own name.
This is vital for them to find their peg and to know which belongings are theirs. It also means that all the time you spend labelling clothes is not in vain! Your child’s reception class teacher will provide them with lots of activities to support this but it definitely gives them a head start. With your child, explore what the letters in their name look like and help them try writing their name, too.
2. Taking their own clothes and shoes on and off.
This includes being able to do and undo buttons and zips. When your child’s new school uniform and PE kit arrive practise putting it on and taking it off so you can spot any problems they are having and help them to remedy them. A reminder to your child that for PE lessons you do not need to take your underwear off too is really helpful as it happens a lot!
3. Being able to carry a tray with food on with two hands.
In most infant and primary school children are expected to go up to a counter and collect their lunch (if they are having a school lunch) and take it back to the table they are sitting at. All schools support and train their new pupils in how to do this in the first few weeks but some practise before school helps them to feel more confident when in the lunch hall.
4. Using cutlery.
Schools do not expect reception aged children to use a fork and knife correctly to cut up food and will support your child in doing this. However, it is important that your child is able to try and cut up their own food and that they are able to use fork and spoon to feed themselves properly. Lots of practise at meal times at home really helps.
5. Toilet independence.
Ensuring that your child is able to take care of all their own toileting needs including hygiene afterwards is vital. So lots of practise of going to the toilet, wiping, flushing, cleaning and drying of hands.
6. Knowing when to listen.
At school children are expected to be able to sit still and listen to the class teacher for short periods of time from the day they start. To help your child prepare for this take some time to role play schools at home, using teddies and cuddly toys. With your child take turns to role play the teacher and the pupils and then you can model what they need to be doing.
Quick Tip: A lot of schools refer to sitting crossed legged on the floor as ‘school legs’.
7. Help them learn how to make friends.
Having friends is very important to children and us all. Children who have been to pre-school or nursery will have already developed skills in how to socialise with their peers but it is really important to encourage your child to talk and play with other children on playdates, at play sessions or at the park.
8. Be really positive about school.
Children’s views about school vary hugely but by taking time to talk about school enthusiastically and all the exciting things that they will being doing will put them at ease and reassure them that their first day at school will be great fun.
There are lots of books that you can read with your child about getting ready for school and we will be recommending our favourite in our next blog.