Is your child ready for school?
Starting school for the first time can be an exciting time but also very daunting for both the child and the parents. Below are some things that will help your child get ready to start school and make the most of their learning. There are also some useful links to other websites with tips to help you prepare your child for school.
Eating and feeding themselves
At school, children will need to be able to open their packed lunch and use a knife, fork and spoon.
These factsheets give some useful tips around teaching your child to use a knife, fork and spoon:
There is lots more information and useful links on the healthy eating page. There are also some great videos and tips around swapping to healthier snacks and making healthy food choices:
Who can help with healthy eating and children feeding themselves?
HENRY (Health, Exercise and Nutrition for the Really Young) is an 8 week programme for parents with children aged 0 to 5 years, which provides support to enable parents to ensure their babies and young children have a healthy start in life, through developing parenting confidence, physical activity for little ones, what children and families eat and enjoying life as a family.
Emotional well-being for children and parents
Starting school can be a daunting time for both children and parents. There are some things you can do to help your child feel more confident about starting school and reduce your own anxieties as a parent.
This video gives some tips around helping with separation anxiety and how to help yourself and your child feel better about being separated from each other:
Action for Children has some tips around parent well-being for recognising the signs of loneliness and coping with feelings of loneliness as a parent.
Groups to help with emotional well-being
Different groups for parents are run across Worcestershire depending on where you live.
- Birth and Beyond is very much around feelings and emotions surrounding the new born baby and pregnancy
- Solihull Approach will help parents to understand and support their child’s emotional well-being and helps them put parents in their ‘child’s shoes’
- Family Links is a nurture based programme that introduces ways to improve family relationships
- Triple P parenting programme focuses on the relationship between parents and children/young people
- Incredible Years focuses on promoting children's academic, social and emotional skills
You might also find some useful information on the Mental Health and Emotional Well-being pages
Getting enough sleep (setting good routines)
For your child to make the most of their school day, they need to be having a good night's sleep. Children who are 4-6 years old need 10 ½ to 11 ½ hours of sleep a night. Below are some tips for setting a good bedtime routine:
This video gives some tips on setting a good sleep routine:
Need more help with setting routines?
There are groups for parents in Worcestershire that will give you some practical tips and strategies for setting routines for your family. One of these groups is called PEEP which is a 10-12 week learning programme to value and build on the home learning environment and parent relationships with their children, by making the most of everyday learning opportunities – listening, talking, playing, singing and sharing books and stories together.
Action for Children lots of sleep and bedtime tips including creating a bedtime routine, common sleep problems and coping with nightmares
Bookstart bath, book and bed programme tips for bedtime routines and reading
NHS healthy sleep tips for children
Speech and language tips for starting school
By the time they start school, children should be able to talk in sentences so that people can understand them. They should also enjoy stories, nursery rhymes and having conversations.
There are lots of things you can do to help your child to develop their talking, attention and listening skills. These include tips like:
- reduce background noise made by people talking or having the TV on so that your child has the best chance of hearing what you are saying
- encourage your child to look at you when you are talking to them by doing 'copycat' games like Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
- use 'ready, steady…go' games to help children listen and wait for instructions
- keep instructions short and simple and tell your child what you want them to do rather than what you don't want them to do e.g. "walk" rather than "don't run"
The activity sheets below provide lots more tips and games you can play with your child to help with their speaking, attention and listening skills. You can also find lots more advice on the Speech and Language Therapy website.
- attention and listening tips (PDF)
- attention and listening activities (PDF)
- dummy advice (PDF)
- top tips for expressive language (PDF)
Who can help with speech and language?
You can read more information about speech and language development for children aged 2 to 4 years to give you an idea about what your child should be doing between the ages of 2 and 4 years.
If you're concerned about your child's speech and language you could:
- talk to your child's nursery or early years setting
- talk to your health visitor
- attend a 'Talking Walk-in' drop in session with a speech and language therapist – find out where your nearest Talking Walk-in is
- get in touch with Worcestershire's Speech and Language Therapy service
- find out about Family Learning courses available in libraries that are focused on topics including literacy, parenting, routines, transition to school etc.
Where can I go for stories and nursery rhymes?
There are lots of groups around Worcestershire you can go to with your child to read stories, sing songs and listen to nursery rhymes. Worcestershire's Library Services have lots of groups around the county as well as schemes to give free book packs to children aged 0 to 4 years. These include:
- bounce and rhyme sessions in every library (21 libraries) to support speech and language development and reading for pleasure
- story times and holiday activities focused around literacy
- wide range of books for children to support starting school
- wide range of books to support parenting e.g. potty training, sleep patterns etc
- summer reading challenge during the summer holidays for 4 to 12-year-olds and under fives
There are also some tips on the BookTrust website around reading with your child.
Free books (Bookstart)
BookTrust website gives free books to every child in England and Wales at two key stages before school. The programme also gives free packs for children with additional needs, tips and guidance on reading together, resources and activities and much more.
As the world's first national book-gifting programme, Bookstart aims to encourage a love of books, stories and rhymes in children from as young an age as possible.
In Worcestershire, your pre-schooler will receive their special gift envelope when they are 4 years old, from their early years setting or library.
Taking care of themselves (toilet training and getting dressed)
Self-care for children includes things like potty training and being able to dress and undress. These are important skills to have when starting school as children will be expected to:
- wear pants to school and know when they need the toilet
- go to the toilet by themselves
- dress and undress themselves after going to the toilet or taking part in a P.E. or games lesson
- put their own shoes and coat on
Tips for toilet training
Help explain potty training to your toddler with Pirate Pete and Princess Polly
The NHS website, has lots of information about potty training including when and how to start it, using pull-ups, night-time potty training and using the toilet instead of a potty. This includes further information to tackle specific problemsthat you may be experiencing.
Other information and tips may be found on the ERIC website and Institute of Health Visiting website
If you need any further support and advice around toilet training, please contact your local health visiting or public health nursing team
Tips for teaching children to dress themselves
Teaching your child to dress themselves can start from a young age and develops from children holding their arms up to put a t-shirt on, to putting their own socks on and doing zips and buttons. It might be a good idea to give your child shoes that they can do up themselves (e.g. shoes with Velcro instead of laces or buckles). An article on the Firstcry Parenting website gives tips on how to teach your child to dress themselves.
- Pacey information for parents factsheets, videos and activity sheets to help you and your child get ready for school
- Pacey toolkit for helping to prepare your child for school
- The School Run 10 tips for a good first day
- Mumsnet tips for starting school
- Kid Sense tasks and activities to help with things like social interaction, play, language and emotional development