Preparing your child for primary school

Posted by iChild, August 29, 2018 10:29 AM

By Thimble & Twig

It’s with a mixture of excitement and sadness that the time has come to prepare my third child to start school. In the next week, schools are gearing up to start and parents, teachers and students alike are bracing themselves for the return to the school routine. But for those with little ones starting school in reception this year, this can be a time of anxiety. Here are some top tips to help children to start school successfully!


1: Practise getting dressed in their uniform before the day. Children in reception will need to be able to get dressed for PE and back again, without losing items of clothing or taking too long. Lots of practice at this to build independence will really help, and ensuring uniform has elasticated skirts or trousers and Velcro shoes will also help the morning process! Teach your child tricks such as putting labels at the back, holding cuffs to stop sleeves riding up and wrinkling tights to put toes in first.

2: Read a selection of books on starting school from your local library, and use these stories as a starting point to chat with your child about starting school. What do they think it will be like? What are they most looking forward to? Is there anything they’re unsure or worried about?

3: Find photos of you and other family members at school and talk about happy memories from your own school days. If your child has siblings at the same school – make sure they vocalise the happy feelings they have about school and the fun activities they do there.

4: Meet up with other ready-for-school-aged children – whether at a local park or play scheme. Ideally this will be with other children from your child’s new class but if not, playing with other children, whether friends and family members, or other children at the park or soft play area, is all good practice for forming friendships with classmates at school. Teach them some useful phrases such as, “can I join in?” or “do you want to share"?

5: Get your child into the habit of tidying up - hanging their coat up, putting their toys away, clearing the table, and so on, to prepare them for doing these things at school. It’s also a good idea to ensure your child is beginning to cut up their own food and can hold a knife and fork to get ready for school dinners.

6: Don’t worry – you do not have to start teaching your child to read and write before they begin Reception but some awareness of Maths and English will support them. The most important thing you can do is read to your child. Developing their love of words and interest in books is essential and is also helping them to learn how to concentrate. It’s useful if you can teach them to recognise their own name. Write their name out and type it out, then put it up for them to see on a fridge or bedroom door. Ask them to find their name among other words so they’ll be able to find their belongings and peg. Teach them to write their name independently with a capital letter and learn the sounds that each letter makes. In school your child will be taught a phonics learning programme with the emphasis being on the sounds that the letters make and not the letter name. You might find iChild's Phonics section helpful!

7: There are other things that can help your child - helping them to recognise their numbers 1-10 will also be supportive, have a look at iChild's Counting section. Things like knowing their age and also the days of the week is also helpful, if possible. Scissor skills such as cutting out basic shapes are also helpful to have in the first year of school; your child might enjoy iChild's Scissor skills section.

8: Teach them how to use the toilet and to clean themselves afterwards independently. Of course, the teachers and staff will be there to help, but with lots of children in the class and lunch and play times too, learning this essential life skill quickly will make children's time at school easier.

9: Help your children to learn that they will need to concentrate, you could practice playing games where your family raise their hand to say something and wait for their turn to participate. Helping your child to understand some of the rules and systems that will be in school will make it less daunting for them. Systems such as standing in a line, waiting their turn, listening to a class story, are all important part of school routine, and so it’s helpful if they are aware of what’s to come.

10: Preparing them for the first day is important. It will help your child if you have a special saying goodbye routine – perhaps a special rhyme or phrase you’ll say and then prepare them for the fact that they’ll be walking to their teacher and waving goodbye.

Most importantly – have lots of fun in the summer holidays, spend as much time as possible together and good luck to all children and parents kicking off this new adventure in September!

By Thimble & Twig


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