Getting ready for school

Top tips for parents and carers for preparing a child to go to school

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Pathway to school

Top tips for parents and carers: Preparing for school together

Starting school is an exciting step for a child and their family. These top tips have been designed to help you and your child to make the best possible start to school life. It is completely normal for both children and parents/carers to feel both excited, but also a little unsure at times. Staying relaxed and calm will support your child to feel less anxious. You can help a lot by talking together with your child and helping them to understand what to expect.

Sharing books and stories about starting school is a fantastic way to talk with your child about starting school. Visit your local library and check out their variety of books about starting school.

Enjoy the story time video with Sarah Tipler who is reading the book ‘Starting School’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

  • Talk about all the fun things that will happen at school, for example playing with friends, listening to stories, singing songs and nursery rhymes, boy holding ladys hand painting and making things.
  • Share photos from the school, including of their new teacher(s) (for example from their website or welcome booklet) with your child to help them become familiar with the environment.
    Visit the school’s website to find out more useful information about the school.
  • Practise the routine before the big first day, for example trying on the school uniform, travelling to school and looking for interesting things on the way. Plan extra time when getting ready to go out so that your child has time and space to practise dressing and undressing independently before starting school. Watch this video for a handy tip teaching your child to put on their own coat.
  • Read books together about school. This is a fantastic way to talk about school, and answer children’s questions. Visit your local library and ask for books about starting school.
  • Using the toilet: Being able to use the toilet and wash their hands afterwards will help your child to feel independent and reduce the chances of an accident. Talk to you child about using the toilet at school. For example, if they are playing with an activity in the classroom, it’s likely to take them longer to make their way to the toilets. Talking to your child about using the toilet at school and practicing this skill at home will help build your child’s confidence ready for when they start school in September. For top tips on toilet training watch this short video from BBC Bitesize and ERIC.
  • Recognising their coat peg: It is helpful if your child can find their place in the cloakroom for their bag and coat. Ask their new teacher what your child’s coat peg label will look like so that your child will know what they are looking for on their first day.
  • Get everything ready: Check that all clothes and bags are labelled, use labels or a pen to write on the clothes tags, and don’t forget to include labelling their shoes! Ask your child to help you lay out their uniform ready for the next day and have their bag packed ready.
  • Talk about going to school: Remind your child about the fun things waiting for them at school.
  • Get an early night: Having an early night will help everyone to feel ready for the next day.
  • If your child seems to have some worries at first, remember that this is normal. Try to name your child’s feelings for them and show that you understand these. You might want to say something like ‘I can tell you are a bit worried. That’s ok. Sometimes I get worried about new things too, even when I know they will be fun and exciting’.
  • Breakfast: Eating a healthy breakfast together before school will help your child to concentrate and learn. For recipe ideas visit the NHS or Henry website.

Children sat on a carpet

  • Leave plenty of time: Plan extra time when getting ready so that your child has time to help with getting ready. Rushing to get everyone ready in the morning is part of being a parent but getting to school nice and early on the first day will help make it a more enjoyable and a relaxed experience.
  • Take a photo: If you have a camera, you might like to take a photo or ask family or a friend if they can take a photo.
  • Say a goodbye and reassure your child that it will soon be time to collect them after a lovely day at school. It may be tempting to sneak away, especially if you are worried your child will be upset when you leave, but this can make your child worry more when they realise you have left them suddenly.
  • Asking for help: Remind your child to ask a grown up or friend for help if they are unsure or worried.
  • Be prepared for a very tired child: Even if your child is used to a long day at nursery, a school day can be exhausting.
  • Check their book bag: Lots of schools communicate by email, but keep an eye out for letters and information in their book bag.
  • Talk with your child about their day at school, for example ask questions such as who they played with, what they ate for lunch, what they enjoyed about school. Don’t worry if your child is too tired to answer!
  • Routine: Enjoying some time together as part of a bed time routine, for example sharing a book, will help your child wind down at the end of a busy day.

What to expect in the Early Years Foundation Stage: a guide for parents

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) outlines what adults must do to help children learn and develop and to be healthy and safe.

This guide is for parents, carers and guardians of children from birth to five years old. It will help you find out more about your child’s learning and development in the EYFS.

Useful information girl with painted hands

In North Lincolnshire we want all children to be ready for starting school reception class. There are lots of things that you can do to help this.

At the point of starting reception class, it is helpful if I can…

  • show an interest in my environment and can focus on things for a short period of time
  • ‘have a go’ at new things and keep on trying when things get difficult
  • make my own choices and follow simple routines.

Personal, social and emotional development

  • feel good about myself and enjoy getting praise
  • settle when my parents/carers leave me, knowing that they will be back soon
  • know when I have different feelings like happy, sad or cross and show this using words, gestures and facial expressions.

Communication and Language development

(This can be in the child’s home language)

  • let you know what I am thinking, feeling and I am interested in
  • get help from others when I need it
  • follow simple instructions
  • listen and take turns when I am playing and talking
  • enjoy and join in with some songs, rhymes, and story books that I know
  • Best Start Communication Counts  [PDF, 842Kb].

Physical Development

  • use a range of tools for example a knife and fork, scissors and paintbrush
  • put on my shoes and my coat
  • make marks, using tools such as pencils, pens and brushes, including circles and lines and sometimes the letter(s) of my name
  • use the toilet, and wash my hands by myself
    *Remember every child is an individual and develop in different ways and at different times.

If you have any concerns about your child’s development or have any questions regarding your child starting school, please:

  • talk to a health professional such as your GP or Health Visitor
  • discuss your concerns with your child’s nursery, pre-school, childminder, or school
  • Pop into our main council buildings and community hubs, email enquiries@northlincs.gov.uk or telephone 01724 297000.
  • visit the Local Offer website.

Useful links

Children’s teeth – NHS website

Make your own playdough – BBC Good Food

Using cutlery information sheet – NHS website

Serve and return – communication and social skills – Harvard University website

Books and the bedtime routine – BookTrust website

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