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12 top tips to prepare your child for school

12 Top Tips To Prepare Your Child For School Panel

Is your child going to school in September?

Read our 12 top tips to help you, and your child as they prepare to start a new school or join a new class.

Hang out and have fun together

Spending time with your child, chatting and doing what they enjoy, sets them up nicely for school. All children are different and will be developing at their own pace. Some children will need a little more support. If you are worried, talk to their health visitor or their nursery, preschool or childminder and their new teacher.

Let the games begin

Play helps children to learn and develop in so many ways. Children get to practise moving with more control, exploring their feelings and taking turns. Children experience solving problems in play, building their confidence and learning about numbers. Play also helps children develop the language to talk about what they are doing. Children are naturally curious about the world, so let them explore and talk about the adventure! How many different ways can you play with a stick or a cardboard box?

Excited but a tad anxious? Totally normal!

Starting school is exciting but can also be a time when both children and parents become anxious. Talking calmly and positively about going to school and using words to describe different feelings can help to reassure your child. Talking in this way also gives them the language to share how they are feeling. Take care not to over-hype the first day in case it does not live up to expectations. If you are worried, try not to let it show.

Get the lowdown on the daily grind

Knowing what will happen can make all the difference to a child's first days at school. Find out about daily routines such as how the day starts, snack time, assembly, lunchtime, and what happens in the afternoon and at home time. Talk to your child about the daily timetable using language related to sequence and time. Words such as first, next, then, after that and at the end of the day will. Some children will find a visual timetable helpful, with pictures of the different activities in the order that they will happen. Let the school know if you think your child will need extra support to settle into the new routine.

Share and care

Talk with your child about sharing as you play together. This will help your child understand how to interact with other children and will give them the language to do so. Practice taking turns when playing games together. Being alongside and playing with other children helps to develop these important social skills. Ask your local Children's Centre about stay and playgroups in your area.

The School Snooze Game

A good bedtime routine now sets children up nicely for school. This means that they can make the most of all that school offers when they start in September. Having a routine that helps your child to get a good night's sleep will also help them to manage their feelings and emotions better. Reading a favourite book or chatting quietly together are great ways to help your child relax.

Keep the chatter going

Daily chatter really matters! When talking and listening during everyday routines, children hear and use new words. This helps them to learn about the world around them. It can be as simple as counting as you are doing up your child's buttons or talking about the birds you see in the park. Making something together, like a sandwich, gives you lots to talk about! Use action words like cut, spread, and slice and sequence words like first, next, then, and finally. Daily chatter builds confidence to talk. Then children feel able to let their new teacher know what they want, ask questions, and talk to other children.

Snuggle up with books

Sharing a book together will help your child's language development at any age. For children who will be going to school soon, it is especially valuable. Let your child take the lead and turn the pages. Talk about the pictures. Children love to hear the same book again and again! This helps them to remember and join in with the words and begin to retell stories. Reading books about school will help them get used to the idea. Local libraries have a range of children's books that you can borrow free of charge.

Great expectations

Children are less worried when they know what to expect. Talking to your child, and using words related to school can really help. Words like teacher, class, playground, learn, lunch, book bag, uniform, coat peg, PE kit and tidy up. You could take the journey to school before the first day and talk about what you see on the way. If there are events at the school, you could join in and then encourage your child to remember and talk about what happened.

Let 'em make choices

When you give your child choices you help them to increase their vocabulary. You could ask "What shall we put on next... socks or vest?" or "Would you like an apple or a satsuma?". There will be lots of decisions for your child to make at school. Decisions they might make are what and who to play with, choosing what to eat at lunchtime or which book to bring home to share with you. Giving your child simple and realistic choices will help them to become more independent and responsible. This will also help to build their confidence to make decisions and solve problems.

Chat it up during routines

Talk with your child as you go through their routines such as using the toilet or getting dressed. This will help your child to become more confident with self-care. Talk about what is happening and what to do next. For example, "Now flush the toilet. After that wash your hands, then dry them". Your child may need to hear just one instruction at a time. Encourage your child to tell you what the routine is.

Stay curious, little explorer

Noticing things around you and talking about them encourages learning. Listen for sounds together. As you walk to the shops, listen to the sounds you can hear. Who can hear a new sound first? This helps your child to become a good listener. Games that help them to listen to the sound at the beginning or end of a word will also help with reading and writing.


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Plymouth's Local Offer

The Plymouth's Local Offer explains the support and services that are available for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 0 to 25 years.


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