Being ready to start school

This article will provide you with tips to help prepare your child for starting school. Please remember every child is different, this is a guide with some top tips to get your child ready for school.

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Becoming curious about the world

Rather than focusing on reading, writing and math skills, focus upon helping your child to be curious, confident and ready to learn. You will want to make sure that your child:

  • can listen and follow instructions
  • can ask questions
  • can sit and listen for short periods of time

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) have some great resources to use with your child:

Make a mark, Make a Start - What comes before writing is a great resource giving ideas on what you can do with your child before they start to write.

Happy talk - This resource explains how communication is essential for learning and also being a good foundation for reading and writing.

Listen and Learn - Practicing good listening skills with your child before they start school will help them get off to a great start.

A Numbers Game – Explains how fun and games will help prepare your child to learn maths in everyday activities.

Getting dressed and undressed

You will want to make sure that your child can:

  • put their coat on by themselves
  • button and unbutton their clothes
  • do up their own zip
  • put their own socks and shoes on
  • take off their clothes and put them neatly in one pile (ready for Physical Education lessons)

There are some videos on YouTube which show an easy way to put on a coat.


You will want to make sure that your child:

  • has practiced putting on their uniform and getting ready to leave on time
  • has a good bedtime routine so they are not tired for school the next day
  • is learning to eat at the times they would on school days

There are some great top tips and resources on the NHS website for sleeping, also visit the Family lives, Super Nanny and Mouth of Mums websites for great advice on establishing good routines for your family life, school and for children with additional needs.


You will want to make sure that your child:

  • can go to the toilet on their own
  • can wipe themselves properly
  • can flush the toilet
  • can wash and dry their hands properly

The Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity (ERIC) share a range of useful resources. On the PACEY website you can find a great video on toilet training.


Does your child like to interact with other children, are they able to take turns and share toys, does your child listen to others when they are talking, do they know that what they say and do can make others happy or unhappy?

The following things can help with this:

  • Positive role modelling, demonstrating the behaviour you expect from your child
  • Reading stories or books about being a good friend or being kind to others
  • Providing opportunities to play alongside others and resolve conflicts
  • Exploring and naming their emotions. What does it feel like to be angry, sad, happy? What can we do when we or others feel this way?  This can be introduced through emotion cards/books or even watching films such as ‘Inside Out’.


You will want to make sure that your child:

  • can separate from their carer/parents when they go to school
  • is beginning to feel confident about starting school
  • asks their friends or adults for help if needed
  • can tidy up after themselves
  • can look after their things e.g. Jumpers, coats and lunchboxes
  • can wipe their own nose
  • can use a knife and fork
  • can open food packets on their own

Further Information

The Good Schools Guide has information on starting a new school when your child has SEN and the Barnardo’s website has information on supporting special needs children in school.

There are also some great video clips on YouTube showing how to help your child be school ready.  BBC Cbeebies share top tips on how to get ready for school.  Really useful information on how to support your child if they suffer with anxiety from the NHS.

If you have any questions or concerns at all about your child, contact your local Health Visitor service. Your local Health Visitor service offers support for parents of all children (from pregnancy to age five), whatever their circumstances. 

Visit the Community Children’s Health Partnership website to find out how to contact your local Health Visitor.