With September already looming, many of you will be anticipating your children beginning their journey into formal education, starting Primary School. From both a mummy and a teacher’s perspective I can imagine there must be so many questions 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? He has different needs to all the other children –how will he handle school or how will school handle him? Does he know all he is supposed to know before starting school? My advice to you is...DON’T PANIC! You are in the majority if you have questions or concerns! 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, 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, physical and investigative 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 months, concentrate on my 6 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 own resources or equipment appropriate for an activity.

  1. Talk, Communication and Language

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. It is also important to develop a positive ethos at home around the importance of communicating and expressing feelings, of any kind. Doing this will have multiple benefits both now when starting school and in the future (eg. nurturing an open and trusting mutual relationship between you and your child, bringing into your awareness how your child is really feeling so you can take steps to help him if need be).

  1. Sharing and Interaction

The more opportunities your child 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 and words 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 and 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. The above expectations could be reinforced at home too by nurturing a respect for themselves, their actions and others’ feelings.

  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... In addition, follow Bounce on Pinterest for additional ideas

  1. Exploring and Investigating

In my experience, as a teacher, a mummy and in my psychology studies, I have come to appreciate very often the most effective learning occurs when a child is left to his own devices. By this I mean he is not given prescriptive instructions about how to do something and he is not given a ready-made activity with nicely prepared and organised resources. In other words, step back and let your child have the opportunity to use his own initiative and develop his creative, imaginative and innovative skills through exploring, investigating and initiating his own learning.  A child needs to learn to think, try out and adapt ideas for going through this process of exploration and taking ownership, he learns. An insightful challenge to try at home is presenting your child with a large cardboard box (and the opportunity to access resources, toys, materials at home) “This is for you do whatever you would like to do with it”... In the latter stages of their ‘creation’ or ‘exploration’ you may wish to step in to play with them, but allow your child to initiate the direction of the play and conversation. I assure you, if you have not yet tried this, you’re likely to be amazed at the ideas and creativity your child possesses and see a different side to your child. This can also be a wonderful, yet simple idea to get peers and siblings playing and interacting amicably together too.

You’ll notice from reading my top tips, none of the above mentioned is onerous; they are skills that can be naturally threaded into your everyday lives. Enjoy and treasure these precious last few months with your child at home, and keep the above top tips in mind to promoting a thriving start to school.

If you would like further professional, specifically individually-tailored support, advice and strategies to give your child a smooth and happy transition into Primary School, then check out and the services we offer Additionally you may wish to sign up to Bounce’s FREE monthly newsletter or get in touch via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ...I would love to help you help your child beginning his/her journey into life at school.

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