School can seem a big step for both children and parents. It’s normal for every child to develop at a slightly different pace. There are lots of activities you can do with your little one to help them develop the skills they need for school. Here are some tips and links to support you on your journey to having a great start in the classroom!
Every child will develop at a different rate. If you’re unsure where you child is at in their development, visit this What to expect, when? Guide. Contact your local health visiting service if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health or development.
Click here for a handy Ready Steady School! leaflet.
Putting on clothes is a tricky skill. It requires both big
and small movements. Buttons and zips can be fiddly for small fingers. Velcro
or buckles are much easier to fasten shoes. For PE get children trainers rather
than plimsoles as they better support little feet – if shoes are comfy children
will enjoy physical activity much more! Practice putting shoes on the correct
feet. Draw half a smiley face inside each shoe – this can help children with
their left and right!
Help your child to get dressed by choosing school uniform
that is easier to get on and off such as elasticated waists. Practice putting it
on (the right way round!) and taking it off before their first day – lots of
encouragement and making it fun will help them to be excited and want to keep
trying. Be sure to plan extra time in the morning so that it is not a stressful
Try this Ready,
Steady, Dress activity from PACEY to build the excitement together at home.
Ready for lunch!
All children are entitled to a nutritionally balanced school
meal in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 free of charge. Children will need to feel confident eating
independently, using a knife and fork and sat at a table. Get your child used
to this by eating as a family at the table at home – practicing cutting up food
and even get them to carry their own plate and clear it away, they may be
expected to do this at school.
To support your child to eat well,
including a variety of fruits and vegetables – at least 5-a-day
- make sure you often expose your little one to new foods, and in different
forms – raw or cooked, in sticks or in slices, on their own or as part of a
meal. Try to incorporate a variety of textures too – smooth, lumpy and crunchy
foods, as this will help your child to learn to like a range of different food.
It is perfectly normal for toddlers to refuse to eat or be a
eater. Make sure you give them the right
portion – children have tiny tummies so will eat little and often rather
than a big meal. To help keep bodies and teeth healthy, children should only drink
plain water or unflavoured milk. Children over one year should drink from a cup
or free-flowing beaker with a hard spout.
Child Feeding Guide
Tips and Tricks
Be Sugar Smart! Check out these
tips for Healthier
Snacks for Kids
Mealtime Routine sheets One and Two
Going to the toilet
requires time and patience. Give your child plenty of encouragement and praise
when they are dry; don’t get cross or let your child see your frustration when
they have an accident. If they have an accident change them in the bathroom.
This helps them learn where they should be going. Encourage them to clean
themselves by wiping properly using toilet paper and wash
their hands if they are able to. Using (non-food) rewards can be helpful
when toilet training – stickers work well.
Concerned your child is constipated?
To prepare your child for all types of physical school
activities, encourage a variety of outdoor play to practice new skills and
movements. Feed your child’s natural curiosity and explore together:
Trying new games and activities is a great way to learn and
practice new movements. It also helps children learn to give things a go and
keep trying when things are challenging.
Play with your children as this shows your interest; delight
in their discoveries and encourage creativity.
Get moving with 10-minute Shake Ups or
discover fun indoor activities with Change4Life.
Every day should be a healthy
day; children should be active for at least 3 hours/180 minutes every
day (spread throughout the day). NHS Live
Well suggests tips to reduce sitting
To explore what’s on offer for
your little one in your local areas check out the Hampshire,
Portsmouth, Isle of Wight and Dorset
Being able to communicate
what a child is feeling and thinking will really help them get ready for
school. Most children are able to use longer sentences and link them together
by the time they enter the school gates. They will still struggle to make
harder sounds such as r, w, l, f, th, sh and ch, and make mistakes with tenses.
They will usually be able to ask questions and will be beginning to describe
Provide simple choices during the day so that children have
the chance to say which they’d like and why. Encourage your child to have a go
at things and ask for help when they need it. Let your child ask for things
when you are out shopping. Play games that involve taking turns – make sure you
are a good listener too!
Use family dinner time as an opportunity to talk about
everyone’s day. Ask your child what they have enjoyed today. Reduce distraction
by turning off the TV and radio.
Ditch the dummy and remember to brush teeth twice a day:
having a healthy
mouth also helps your child to be able to speak clearly by making the right
mouth shapes to make different sounds. NHS dental care is free for children. Find you nearest dentist and
register with them today!
Explore Small talk for ideas on little ways to
make a big difference.
Words for Life has tips on which
books to read when and activity sheets.
Talking Point has tips for parents with children of all ages.
If you have any concerns about your child’s development, contact
your local Health
Children will need to listen and follow instructions at
school. Developing good attention and concentration skills at home will support
them get ready for the classroom.
Playing games that involve listening to different sounds or
words and remembering the information helps children to become good listeners,
eg. I Spy, Simon Says etc. Learning to share and listen helps develop important
skills for a social classroom environment.
Read stories and rhymes together. Do this in a quiet corner
where there are fewer distractions. Stop at different points in the story and
ask them what they think might happen next. Establish a
bath, book, bed routine so that your child enjoys a story every day (this
also helps improve sleep). Good
sleep is important for your child’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Visit your local library to
discover new books together. They also run story time and rhyme time sessions.
for talking to your baby and young child from the Literacy Trust
and toddler play ideas
Developing strength in fingers and hands supports children
to become more independent to do a range of everyday activities that require
fine motor skills. It will also make it easier to hold and control a pencil to
start writing and drawing. There are lots of activities that you can do
together to help:
Children should be able to concentrate on something they
find interesting for short periods of time.
CBeebies Grown-ups: Ready for
Make sure your child is fit and healthy to attend school as
much as possible. Remember to take them for their MMR
booster and make sure that all their immunisations are up-to-date. Here is
a helpful timeline
of vaccinations little ones should have.
If your child is unwell and you’re unsure if they should go
to nursery or school, there is lots of information on this
Make sure your child knows when they need - and how - to
wipe their own nose. Send them to school with a tissue to avoid snotty sleeves!
Did you know that under 5’s can have a free NHS eye test? Don’t
worry – they don’t need to be able to recognise letters or read to have their
eyes checked. It is important to find eye problems early as it can affect their
development and education.
If your child has additional needs or you need additional
help getting your child ready for school, your health visiting team could offer
support with a personalised care plan. A member of the health visiting team
will use the care plan to help you set goals. Together you will agree actions
and activities which will enable you to achieve your goal.
Being a confident and happy child
The Five to Thrive approach includes five key activities for
parents/carers to do with their children to support attachment. The Five to
Thrive messages support the development of secure attachment and emotional resilience.
Do these five key activities every day with your child to help their growing brain
develop: Respond · Cuddle · Relax · Play · Talk.
Confident, happy children will find it easier to settle more
quickly when you leave them at school. Visiting new places and meeting new
people will help children prepare to feel ready to explore their new school
environment. Reassure your little one you will be back at the end of the day to
collect them from school.
Hungry Little Minds is a
resource full of ideas and activities for parents of under 5’s to do with their
child to help them learn and discover the world. This will help them get ready
for when they start school.
More tips on how to Chat, Play, Read with your child everyday
through the different early years stages from National Literacy Trust’s Small
We all need sleep. Setting a healthy bedtime routine will
help your child to feel ready and prepared to learn at school every day. Being
tired affects behaviour and performance at school.
Children aged three to six need roughly between 10-12 hours
of sleep a night. So, for a child that wakes at 7am, you should be aiming to be
in bed, or at the very least ready for some quiet time, at around 7pm.
Discover some top tips for bedtime
and other helpful links.