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Frequently Asked Questions...

Answered here...


Here are a few of the questions which are commonly asked by parents. Hopefully my guidance has given you a little general advice.

If you’d like more specific help and individualised support or a personalised plan of action to assist in the preparation or transition to school or to improve behaviour at home please get in touch .

signature sarah mckinlay

Frequently Asked Questions...

Answered here...


Here are a few of the questions which are commonly asked by parents. Hopefully my guidance has given you a little general advice.

If you’d like more specific help and individualised support or a personalised plan of action to assist in the preparation or transition to school or to improve behaviour at home please get in touch .

signature sarah mckinlay

Does my child have to start school in September?

Legally your child is not required to be in school full-time until the term after their fifth birthday.  Therefore, if you have a child born in May, June, July or August you may consider not sending them to school until the Summer term or even as late as the Autumn term where your child would join Year 1.  This however, happens very rarely nowadays; parents perhaps feel pressure to send their child early to school, along with their peers, when they are four rather than five years of age.  In some areas there is a push for places in schools so some parents may put the strain of gaining a place in their preferred school above their child's developmental needs.  Although individual schools will have their own starting school procedure and advice (eg. taster sessions, gradual intake, half days, home visits etc...) it is still the parents’ prerogative to make the final decision of when their child will start school.  You will have your own reasons as to why you think your child should delay starting school.  From my experience, as a teacher, the most common reason for wanting to start later in the academic year is that parents feel their child is too young or immature and will struggle to cope with the transition to school.  However, I have taught some very capable and independent younger children who have surprisingly benefited from starting in the September with all of their peers; maturing as a result.  You know your child best and as a parent you have to weigh up the pros and cons, communicate with the school and seek advice if need be.

How can I prepare my child for school?

A common misconception is that the most important thing you can do for your child is to teach them to count as high as possible, learn the alphabet and write their name.  NO! All these things are a bonus to have before starting school and will be learnt during the first year.  Furthermore, teachers often find that children have to unlearn certain habits they have been taught before school (eg. incorrect letter formation or specific pronunciation of sounds)!  If letter formation and sound pronunciation are correctly taught and the children enjoy learning them through fun and games then it can be a positive thing.  However, this is definitely not a top priority – so many other things would benefit your child more when starting school.  My key tips (if I could only pick 3) for preparing your child for school would be:

  1. Developing independence skills (eg. getting dressed, toileting)
  2. Refining social skills (eg. taking turns, sharing, speaking politely, listening, following instructions).
  3. Talking throughout daily life! Model speaking in full sentences.  All learning stems from talking and communicating effectively.  Have fun developing vocabulary, playing with words, reading books, singing rhymes.

Oh and just one more tip... Make time for one on one special time.  Although I appreciate how especially difficult this can be in a busy household, it is so important emotionally for your child.  Never portray any negative school experiences you may have had in the past, but instead keep conversations light and positive and let your child initiate and steer discussions about starting school.

In all my teaching experience, the children who have the most positive and smooth start to school are those that are independent, get on well with others, communicate effectively and have secure and happy relationships at home.

What can I expect from my child when they start school?

Your child will be exhausted! Even if they are used to full-time childcare or preschool, expect tears and tantrums in the early days! It is perfectly normal, so don’t worry! School is a different environment with lots of new people to meet, new boundaries and learning to take on board so expect tired children. Just get them to bed early – they will need more sleep to feel fresh for another day. For this reason, many schools encourage half days at the beginning. Try to avoid asking your child too many questions at the end of the day. More often than not the question “What did you do today?” will be met with the response “Nothing!”...You will probably find your child will later reveal snippets of information that will seep out at unexpected and impromptu moments! In the early days, with such tiredness, no news at the end of the day is often good news! The main priorities for your child in the first few weeks is simply to get plenty of sleep and to separate happily from you at the school gates.

What can I expect from home visits?

Many parents worry about home visits! My house is a mess! Should I bake them something to eat? Stop worrying! Teachers are most definitely not going to judge you on the tidiness of your house or whether you bake a cake or not! The purpose of home visits in the early days is for staff to get to know your child in their own, familiar environment. They are more likely to see a more relaxed and natural version of your child. It is also a perfect opportunity for you, as parents, to have individual time with the teacher and to bombard them with as many questions or concerns as you need to! From experience, the teachers also enjoy getting to know you and your child individually, forming positive home and school communication links. Different schools conduct home visits in varying ways...Some teachers bring their teaching assistant along too, some play games or do activities with the children, some want to speak to you to gain more detailed information about your child and his/her likes, dislikes, relationships etc...But all should give you the opportunity to ask your own questions. So, in short, home visits are nothing to worry about and can only improve yours and your child’s rapport with the class teacher/school.

At school drop off, what can I do if my child becomes upset and doesn’t want me to leave?

Again, you are not alone if you are walking down the path to school and your child suddenly clings onto your leg like a koala bear, refusing to let go! Separation can be difficult for the child but also (often more so) for the parent. Different schools have varying ways they may advise parents if this happens (some may invite parents in to stay a while, others may encourage you to leave). My main tip (however hard it is to do) is for you to be the strong one and remain calm and positive, without becoming upset yourself (easier said than done!). From experience, 99% of the time once the parent is out of sight the child is absolutely fine and settles quickly. Walking away, letting the teacher peel your crying child off your leg, is likely to feel extremely emotionally tough on you. But feel assured your child will be okay and the school will call you if he/she does not settle quickly.

What can I do to improve my child’s behaviour and listening skills at home?

Children need boundaries and consistency. If you say “If you do that again I will....” you need to do what you say you are going to do, so your child knows you mean business! If these are in place behaviour is likely to improve. Have very clear boundaries at home that your young child fully understands. Children should be clear about consequences to their actions if boundaries are challenged (eg. time out, missing a favourite tv programme etc...). In addition, there should be an agreed incentive (eg. friend over to play, special outing etc...) to work towards to encourage positive behaviour. You may decide to introduce a reward system, with a specific target (eg. listening the first time) rather than a very broad target (eg. good behaviour). If you’d like more specific help and support on behaviour or a personalised plan of action to improve behaviour at home please contact me....

Get in Touch ...

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