Tuesday 13 August 2019

CHILDREN: 37 Ways to Prepare your Child for Starting School

CHILDREN: 37 Ways to Prepare your Child for Starting School
Starting Primary School is such a big milestone for both child and parents, but how is it best to prepare? I think a lot of us would instantly assume that supporting our child with phonics, writing words/numbers, reading and all things academic is the best way and although these can be important there are a whole host of other skills that are really important to learn prior to starting school.

Children go to school to learn how to read and write, amongst other skills, but there isn't really the time or the appropriate place to be teaching children for the first time certain life skills, such as using a knife and fork. That doesn't mean our four year olds need to have mastered all life skills, but they ideally would be able to 'have a go'. This allows teachers to teach the seventeen Early Learning Goals of the Early Years Foundation Stage in Reception and then the National Curriculum as children enter Year 1.

There is a pretty comprehensive list below of the skills that children can practice on the run up to starting school and how we as parents can help prepare them. It's worth noting here that all children learn at different rates and neither is it a competition, so if your child can't do all of these things it doesn't mean they are 'behind' in any way.

  • Using a knife and fork.
  • Opening their own packed lunch box/bag, if having one.
  • Being confident at opening wrappers and packaging. 
  •  Knowing when to wash their hands.
  • Wiping their nose.
  • Ask for help if they don't feel very well.
  • Button and unbutton their shirt/polo shirt and use a zip.
  • Put their own shoes and socks on.
  • Change into their PE kit.
  • Put their coat on.
  • Being happy to be away from their main carer.
  • Good at tidying up and looking after things.
  • Feeling confident about starting school. 
  •  Practice putting on their uniform.
  • Getting ready to leave on time.
  • Establish a good bedtime routine, so that they're not tired for school.
  • Learning to eat at the times of the day I will at school.
  • Go to the toilet by themselves and wipe properly.
  •  Wash and dry their hands without help.
  • Enjoy practising counting objects.
  • Like to say number rhymes and playing counting games.
  • Recognise some of the numbers when they're written down.
  • Enjoy learning about the world around them.
  •  Interested in exploring new activities or environments.
  •  Like to ask questions.
  • Can share toys and take turns.
  • Playing games with others.
  • Like to interact with other children.
  • Enjoy 'reading' stories and looking at picture books. 
  • Able to talk about themselves, their needs and feelings.
  • Practising recognising their name when it's written down.
  • Able to sit and listen for a short while.
  • Follow instructions.
  • Understand the need to follow rules.
  • Like tracing patterns and colouring in.
  • Enjoy mark making.
  • Practising holding a pencil.
Many of these are naturally done in day to day life with children, but some may need some special focus such as putting on/off school uniform, holding a pencil and recognising name/numbers. As parents all we ever want to do is support our children and with school being such a big milestone it is important to know which ways we can otherwise it can all seem quite intimidating. 

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x 


  1. When my youngest started we tried out getting changed and putting shoes on the right feet. Also cutting their own food up if they are having a school dinner.

  2. Great list, very comprehensive. Practising these things will definitely help them to feel more confident in their first few days.

  3. This is such a helpful list. Erin won't be starting school until next year but it's good to get a head start on things she should know.

  4. Great list and parents shouldn't underestimate the point on being able to go to the toilet independently and wiping! It's a biggie.The more you can encourage independence in all areas before starting school the better in our experience.

  5. This is very helpful. I encouraged most of these in our children before they started school. I preferred them to be able to do these things themselves rather than having to wait or rely on a teacher.

  6. Very helpful list. As someone who works with Early Years in the community I often see kids heading to school who need help with these, who struggle at school.

  7. I love this topic, always gives me a little bit of sense what I need to do and be prepared for. Thanks!

  8. This is super important, a child must be confident when taking their first steps through the school gates. Also, a good bedtime routine, so that they're not tired for school is a must xx


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