Should you need urgent health advice please contact your GP or call NHS 111. In an emergency please visit A&E or call 999.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust is responsible for the writing, publishing and updating of the content on this page.

Getting Ready for School – Encouraging Positive Communication

  • Date published:

  • Author: susieking

Being able to express your thoughts and feelings is a skill that even as adults we can sometimes struggle with. But hopefully these tip to support your child's development before they start school can help them be ready to learn and grow.

Speaking, reading and writing

Reading with your child is the best way to help them develop a love of learning and support their speech and language skills. Bedtime stories are a lovely way to sit and calmly read with your child and have their full attention.

Think outside the box too. Show your child road signs and food packaging which helps them to see words in everyday places. You could also place letters around a room which your child has to find and spell the word ‘cat’ or ‘dog.

Ideally, by the time your child starts school they’ll be able to:

  • show an interest in listening to stories
  • look at picture books and make stories from them
  • show an interest in recognising their own name
  • talk about themselves and their needs.

Pre-writing skills

Get creative with supporting your child’s pre-writing skills. Use a paintbrush with water outside or chalks, follow lines underneath tracing paper and play dot-to-dot games.

They’re all are fun ways to practice holding a pencil. Ideally your child will show an interest in holding a pencil and creating marks.

Core skills

A child’s strength to hold their pencil comes from their core. You can help your child develop their core muscles by providing them with plenty of outdoor play including:

  • running
  • hopping
  • skipping
  • jumping
  • throwing and catching a ball.

Listening and understanding

Sometimes at school your child will need to listen and sit still. You can help by encouraging activities at home that allow them to practise doing this.

By finding time to talk with your child and listen to them, they’ll learn that there’ll be an opportunity for them to speak. By emphasising the importance of listening, and showing your child they can take turns to talk and learn, they’ll gradually develop skills that will take them through school and beyond.

Ideally your child will be able to:

  • sit still and listen for a short while
  • follow simple 2 step instructions
  • understand why we need to follow instructions.

Counting skills

Counting can be fun and there are many fun counting games that you can do with your child. You can also teach them to count on a daily basis, for example counting toys, items of food such as carrot sticks. Ask your child to count out plates and lay the table.

Ideally by the time your child starts school they will be able to:

  • count objects
  • recite number rhymes, for example, “1,2,3,4,5 once I caught a fish alive”
  • recognise numbers when they’re written down.

Useful resources

View our speech and language therapy communication skills resources for activity ideas and guidance

Advice for parents of bilingual children

Strategies, information and checking your child’s communication progress