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Get your child ready for starting school

Preschool child zipping up jacket

There are many things parent carers can do to help get your child ready for starting school. This is known as 'school readiness'. 

'Transition' takes place when your child moves up to the next stage of their education, for example from nursery to school. School readiness helps make the transition as easy as possible.

Help get your child ready for starting school

Can your child listen and follow instructions?

Ways to help

  • Play a treasure hunt game to find objects around the house
  • Practice getting dressed routines, for example ask 'Can you get your coat and your shoes'
  • Do cooking activities together - make sandwiches or play dough
  • Make time for listening without television or music on in the background

Can your child communicate and make observations and comments?

Ways to help

  • Give them access to a wide range of books to improve their language and vocabulary, and become more confident with words. Join your local library. Libraries have collections of picture books about feelings and new experiences. These help your child understand, and let you know, how they might be feeling

Can your child share, take turns and play a simple game?

Ways to help

  • Play games such as hide and seek and 'What's the time, Mr Wolf?'
  • Set up a shop, using items from your kitchen, and take turns at being the customer and the shop assistant
  • Use a timer (you can use one on your phone or oven) and take turns on an iPad or a computer
  • Set up a tea party where your child can share out the food, plates and cups to family members, dolls or teddies
  • Play matching pairs games - use pictures, photos or socks

Can your child listen to a story and talk about it?

Ways to help

  • Take your child to your local library to choose books, and talk to them about the books they choose. Storysacks, which contain picture and information books, toys and a game all linked to the story, are available to borrow and are an excellent way to encourage children to talk about a story. Reserve a storysack
  • Take part in the mini reading challenge, which is part of the Summer Reading Challenge which takes place each year at your local library
  • Libraries run story-times, to give children a chance to interact and talk about a story. Find events at your local library
  • Ask your child what their favourite part of the story was
  • Make up stories by using the pictures in your child's favourite stories
  • Make up stories using your child's favourite toys, dolls or teddies
  • Share nursery rhymes and songs

Can your child form relationships with others?

Ways to help

  • Give them a chance to mix with other children from a young age. All libraries offer a bounce and rhyme time which can be a great way of socialising. It can also help language development through songs and rhymes. There are lots of other events at libraries too. Ask at your local library about other activities they offer 
  • Encourage your child to talk when they are playing
  • Give them opportunities to spend time with other adults and get them used to saying goodbye to you

Can your child concentrate and maintain focus for five minutes?

Ways to help

  • Talk to your child and have a conversation
  • Ask your child questions
  • Share stories and books with your child, teaching them the skill of turning pages, ready for school

Can your child do things for themselves?

Ways to help

  • Praise your child when they 'try' and are successful
  • Libraries are a place where children can make independent choices. They can decide what they would like to borrow, ask a librarian for things they are looking for in a safe environment, and learn to use the self-service machines to borrow their own books

Can your child look after their belongings?

Ways to help

  • Encourage your child to turn the pages of a book, one at a time, and close it when they are finished sharing it with you
  • Encourage your child to put their shoes in pairs in the cupboard or under their bed
  • Encourage your child to put their coat away at home

Can your child tidy up?

Ways to help 

  • Put shopping away together
  • Sort the washing, put toys in a box or cupboard or match socks

Can your child recognise their name?

Ways to help

  • Make and decorate a name card and put it on your child's bedroom door
  • Use magnetic letters to make your child's name and family names
  • Make necklaces with your child's name and family names on them
  • Make place mats with your child's name and family names on them

Can your child hold a pen and make some marks and patterns?

Ways to help

  • Use chalks to make patterns on the path or slabs outside
  • Make patterns with your fingers in the bubbles in the bath or washing-up bowl
  • Enjoy drawing together
  • Take it in turns to draw parts of a picture 
  • Write a shopping list together

Can your child find a number of objects when you ask them?

Ways of helping

  • Ask questions during everyday activities such as 'Can you count five bananas, two tins of beans?' (when you go shopping), 'Can you find the stripy socks?' (when sorting the socks) or 'Can you find four forks for tea? when setting the table 

Can your child dress and undress?

Ways to help

  • Encourage your child to dress themselves. Skirts/trousers with an elasticated waist are easier than buttons and zips
  • Encourage your child to practice putting their shoes on the right feet. Velcro shoes are simplest
  • Get your child to practice putting on a PE kit - shorts and a t-shirt
  • Get your child to practice putting their coat on and doing up the zip and buttons
  • Get your child to practice pulling their sweatshirt off

Can your child sit at a table and use some cutlery?

Ways to help

  • Can they use a fork to pick up food, such as carrots
  • Can they hold a fork and use a knife to cut up food, such as fish fingers
  • Can they use a spoon to eat a yoghurt
  • Can they use a knife to spread jam

Can your child pour their own drink?

Ways to help

  • Get your child to practice pouring water from a jug into a cup

    Can your child wash and dry their hands?

    Ways to help

    • Use a step if your child can't reach the sink
    • Practice turning the taps on and off
    • Practice putting the plug in and pulling the plug out
    • Remind your child to use soap to wash their hands

    Can your child use the toilet and flush?

    Ways to help