With September already looming, many of us (me included) are anticipating our children beginning their journey into formal education, starting Primary School. So many questions are already whizzing through your head...Where do I start? How can I help prepare my child for school? How am I going to cope when I leave him at the school door? Is my child ready? Does he know all he is supposed to know before starting school? My advice to you is...DON’T PANIC! Talk to people about your worries and questions and allow your child to become excited about his new adventure!

Having been teaching in Reception for many years I have come to learn what skills are most important for a child when he starts school.

I guarantee most, if not 100%, of Reception teachers would agree with me when I say having a child start school with secure personal, social, emotional, communicative and physical skills is far more valuable to him as a learner than a child that comes in being able to read words, write their name, count to 100 but showing little interaction, independence or communication. Having these skills in place first will allow children to fly in subsequent learning. Did you know that research shows the stronger the personal, social and emotional skills of a Reception child the more likely he is to achieve higher levels of attainment later in school?

Therefore, if you want to focus in preparing your child for school over the summer, concentrate on my 5 top tips!

  1. Independence

The aim is for children to be responsible for themselves, their belongings and their actions. So, particularly useful at school would be independence in getting dressed, putting coats and shoes on, going to the toilet, tidying away toys and selecting resources or equipment appropriate for an activity.

  1. Talk and Communication

Research clearly shows competent speakers develop into competent readers and writers; without talk, learning to read and write will prove more difficult. In addition, language gives children immediate access to their world. Being able to communicate their message effectively will give children satisfaction and develop their sense of self-confidence. Model good spoken language, with correct pronunciation of sounds, and encourage children to speak in full sentences using an expanding vocabulary. Talk throughout your daily lives with your children about their ‘real’ experiences, putting everything into a meaningful context.

  1. Sharing and Interaction

The more opportunities a pre-schooler gets to interact and develop the skills of sharing and taking turns the less of a shock it will be when she starts school! It is, however, an on-going process at this age. Role-model expected behaviour when playing games. If disagreements occur, talk to the children about how to resolve issues, modelling language and behaviour to give them strategies to prevent or resolve disagreements in the future, and try again. Allow your child lots of opportunities to play and interact with other children; play with siblings, friends and have lots of play dates!

  1. Respect for behavioural boundaries

In a classroom the usual behavioural expectations and boundaries will probably include something similar to:

-          I can listen the first time

-          I can keep my hands and my feet to myself

-          I can share and take turns

-          I can look after things

-          I can tidy away

-          I can be kind to others

By the time children start school they should have a general respect for others, adults and peers, as well as the books and equipment in school.

  1. Physical (Gross and fine motor skills)

All activities require some sort of physicality, large or small-scale movements. Large movement skills could include experimenting moving in different ways (eg. hopping, skipping, running, jumping, galloping, balancing, pedalling a bike, using a scooter, climbing, throwing, catching, kicking a ball etc...). Vary direction, change speed, develop a sense of spatial awareness (ie. move without bumping into people and obstacles!). There are so many activities you could have fun with at home to develop fine motor skills, which will enhance pencil and scissor grip and control. To name a few... use pegs, scissors, thread beads, fasten buttons, use large tweezers to pick up rice, mould play-dough, paint, chalk etc...

You’ll notice from reading my top tips, none of the above mentioned is onerous; they are skills that can be naturally fitted into your everyday lives.

If you would like further, personalised support, advice and strategies in giving your child a smooth and happy transition into Primary School, then please take a look at my website and get in touch This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ...I would love to help.


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