Helping your child be School Ready

Your little one going to school is a very exciting and yet daunting experience but there are lots of things you can do to prepare your child prior to their move. Many parents start to panic that their child is unable to write their own name, read or do sums, in fact these skills aren’t necessary, these are things they will learn whilst at school. All children start school at different abilities and schools are fully prepared for this. When joining Reception your child will stay on the same curriculum that we work to at Pre-School, their learning is still done through play so it is important to stay positive and focus on helping your child feel confident and emotionally ready for the change.

We are sharing with you our Top 5 Tips for preparing for school. These tips have been written by our staff that manage and plan the Rising Fours, using advice and feedback from our local schools and their experience in running the programme for many years.

Tip 1- Personal CareĀ 

One of the most important things to ensure your child is ready for school is to make sure they are able to confidently and indepedently use the toilet. This includes being able to recognise when they need the toilet, wipe their own bottom and wash their hands. Its extremley important that your child is reliably toilet trained, if they are not quite there yet, we strongly advise seeing support from your Health Visitor as soon as possible.

You should encourage your child to wipe themselves, aswell as learning to pull their own clothes up and down, practising with buttons and zips and the importance of washing their hands thoroughly to keep germs away and stay healthy.

Its also a good idea to have your child wipe their own nose, recognise when they may need a tissue and wipe their own hands and face after meal times. Remember at school children will be responsible for keeping themselves clean and tidy, so learning these skills now with support, is really important.

Tip 2- Dressing Independently

Our next tip is to help your child learn to dress independently, including socks and shoes and just as important- keep track of their own belongings! This will be really important particulary when chaning for P.E and will hopefully prevent things being lost. So encouraging socks to be put inside shoes, clothes in a pile or folding them if you think they can manage. Encourage them to practise with zips, buttons and learning which way round clothes go, ask them to dress themselves in the mornings. Not only will this help them learn but is also a good habit to get in to before starting school.

When you choose your little ones uniform, try to keep in mind their capabilities. Choose shoes with velcro instead of laces, dresses with zips rather than small buttons and pull on trousers, just while they are building confidence with these skills. Practise with their actual uniform when you have it, this will help with the actual task of getting dressed but makes it more familiar before the transition. Its a good talking point too, speaking positively about their new school. Its also a good opportunity to capture that precious photo, incase you don’t get it on the first day. The first day can be overwhelming for you and your child, some children can find the pressure of having a photo taken infront of their new school, in their new uniform a bit much.

Tip 3- Meal Times

The next is all about meal times. All children going in to Reception are currently entitled to Free School meals (July 2019) you can opt out of this and provide your own packed lunch however.

So with this in mind, it is important that your child is able to use a knife and fork competently, including being able to cut foods, use the knife safely and try to stay clean. In Rising Fours we do start to practise carrying meals on trays, similar to those used in schools, to familiarise the children with what they will be expected to do at school. This could be something that you might like to practise at home too.

If you are planning on your child having packed lunches, check with your school what you can include as schools normally do have specific requirements that must be adhered to. When choosing foods try to pick items that can be easily opened, some products can be quite tricky for adults, so its an idea to practise this over the summer too.

You can find the school menus on the Hampshire website, so you can see what your child will be eating at school. Some schools also offer parents to go in to sample the lunch too, this may be something you are interested in.

Its important to also remember that most schools will only allow you to provide water as a drink in school and not juice. If your child is particulary fussy about water, its an idea to start introducing water as a main drink now to prepare your child.

Tip 4- Independence

In our opinion this is one of the most important things we can do for our children to help best prepare them for school. Most of the time our children surprise us with how much they can do, given the time and space to try- and fail. It is hard to take a step back, we find it hard as Key People, let alone as parents! But helping them to become independent is intergral for a smooth transition.

To encourage this at home, give your child small tasks such as finding items around the house or for a trip out, ask them to be in charge of the shopping list when out shopping. At first maybe you could try using photos of the items you need in replace of words, ask them to lay the table before meals, encourging them to think for themselves about what they need. Offer them plenty of praise to build their confidence and self esteem, if things don’t go as well as planned, talk to them about what they found hard, discuss together what they could try next time. Keep offering positive praise and be patient, when they feel a sense of achievement they will be motivated to keep going and will learn so much more. This leads on to our last tip…


Tip 5- Confidence

Its so important we give our children the confidence to feel ready and excited about ‘big school’. We must remember to be good role models and talk positively about school, regardless of our experience or feeings about the change. Children can be very receptive and will pick up on our worries and feelings. Talk to them about their feelings towards the transition , without putting your views on them. Its easy to assume that they will have the same concerns that we have but this usually isn’t the case. Talk to them about the things you know they will enjoy, for example a particular toy or friend that is going to be in their school.

Give your child the tools they need to initiate conversations with others and make friends. Use role play with their toys or teddies to do this and ask questions such as “How can teddy ask to join in the game?” Sharing and turn taking games are really important in helpimg develop these skills.

Maybe join in with school meets over the holidays to make connectons with others going to your school, this will help parents and children to have a familiar face, particulary on that first morning. But most of all BE POSITIVE!

REMEMBER- Its ok if they do get upset, some children do take a little longer to settle, stay positive, allow them time and if you are still concerned talk to their teacher.

Other Useful Tips-

  • Make plenty of time on the first morning for any first time wobbles (for parents and children!)
  • Establish a good bed time routine before they start, school can be very tiring for children. Ensuring they are well rested will help them get the most from their new experiences.