Preparing your child for starting school at Worth Valley Primary
Starting school in an exciting time for young children and their parents. It can be a daunting time too. But with a little preparation and encouragement, most children will settle in easily at school.
At Worth Valley we aim to work in partnership with parents and carers to make the transition to school as smooth as possible, helping children to achieve the very best start in life. This practical guide will give you useful tips on how to ensure your child will thrive in school and maximise their learning potential.
Important skills to learn
Please don’t worry, your child does not need to be able to read, write or do sums before they start school. Children start school with a wide range of abilities and will all progress at their own level.
What’s most important is that you and your child have fun together in the preschool years, sharing stories, singing songs, playing games and talking about anything and everything. Play listening games to help with following instructions such as ‘Simon says’ or ‘can you find?’
Some things to try:
• Talk to 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?
• If your child has a particular worry please talk about these concerns with your child and share them with the class teacher. Provide reassurance by talking about what to do if they are worried at school and who to tell if they are unhappy.
• Find photographs of you and other family members at school, and chat about happy memories from your own school days.
• Come and visit school with your child before they start so they can meet their new teachers and see their classroom. Transition meetings and workshops held for parents before the children start school and throughout the school year will help you get to know the teachers, give an overview of the school year and expectations and will give ideas on how to support your child with their learning.
• Read books together about starting school. (See suggestions on the last page).
• If your child seems anxious about school, try focussing on the things they will be most excited about such as playing on bikes, making new friends, playing with friends they may already know.
• Practise the school morning routine, including getting dressed and eating breakfast in time to leave.
• Practise the journey to school so the children are well prepared for the school morning journey.
If your child has already spent time in childcare or a preschool setting they are probably well on the way to having the practical and social skills needed to succeed at school. They are used to spending time away from their main carer, mixing with other children, taking instructions from and communicating with other adults, taking some responsibility for tidying up after themselves and looking after their own belongings.
Don’t worry if your child hasn’t attended a childcare setting or preschool. Playing with other children, whether friends and family members, or other children at the park or other play areas, is all good practice for forming friendships with other children at school. Often children who don’t know each other will make friends very easily, but if you think your child may struggle teach them useful phrases such as “can I join in?” or “do you want to share?” The staff will look out for children who are finding it difficult to make friends and will support them.
As the start of the school term approaches, try to get into the school routine, so your child gets used to getting up, going to bed and having meals and snacks at the times they will on school days. Bath time and stories instead of TV and tablet games all help children to settle down ready for bed. Making time in the evening to talk about your day can be a lovely routine for sharing fun times and any worries. Nutritious meals and plenty of sleep will help them to concentrate, learn and thrive at school.
Steps to being ready for school
Build your child’s confidence so that they start school confident, curious and ready to learn. It will make school life easier for your child if they can master these skills before they start school:
I am able to separate from my main carer.
I know when to wash my hands and can wipe my nose.
I can go to the toilet, wipe myself properly and flush unaided.
I like interacting with other children.
I enjoy learning about and exploring new things.
I like to read stories and look at picture books.
I have a good bedtime routine so I’m not tired for school.
I can share toys and take turns.
I am able to sit still and listen for a short while.
I am happy to tidy up after myself and can look after my things.
I can follow instructions and understand the need to follow rules.
I am able to ask for help if I don’t feel well.
I can use a knife and fork and open my lunch on my own.
I can button and unbutton my shirt, use a zip and put on my own shoes and socks.
I enjoy making marks and have practised holding a pencil.
These picture books about going to school may be helpful:
• I am too Absolutley Small for School (Charlie and Lola) by Lauren Child
• Starting School by Janet and Allen Ahlberg
• Tobsy and Tim Start School by Jean and Gareth Adamson
• Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds
• Come to School too, Blue Kangaroo! By Emma Chichester Clark
• Going to School Sticker Book and Starting School Sticker Book- Usborne