Starting primary school can be an exciting and nerve-wracking time for both your child and you as a parent or carer.
Being ready for school
Lots of different advice is available about what you as a parent can do to help your child be ready for school. There is no specific standard as each child is different and will start school at slightly different ages.
One aspect of school readiness, health and development, covers a wide range of areas. This section covers the basics which will ensure that your child is well prepared for school and ready to learn.
Try the suggested activities with your child in the months leading up to starting school, helping them learn through play and day to day activities.
Don’t worry if your child finds them difficult at first. Give them plenty of time to practice and keep praising their efforts. New habits take a while to become second nature.
If there is an area in which you feel you and your child need further support, talk to your childcare provider or get in touch with your public health nurse.
Your child’s life will be much easier if they can get to grips with some basic self care skills, including getting themselves dressed and undressed, before they start school. You can help them practice these day to day tasks in a relaxed, informal way at home.
Going to the toilet
Children need to master going to the toilet before they start school. As well as being able to remove clothing to go to the toilet, they will need to be able to wipe themselves with toilet paper and then flush the toilet.
Your child will also need to be able to ask to go to the toilet, so if your family use a different term to use the toilet then you will need to let the class teacher know. They also need to be in the habit of washing their hands after going to the toilet without an adult reminding them.
Your child will be expected to tidy up after themselves through the day, so try to introduce this at home, for example using some music to make a fun ‘tidy up time’ game.
Playing with other children
Social skills are very important when starting school. Getting your child used to playing with other children is invaluable in helping them settle in school.
If you don’t have any family or friends in the local area, try and find toddler/pre-school group or look for activities in your local children’s centre or community centre so they can get familiar with being with other children. Encourage them to be thoughtful about other children’s feelings, helping them remember to take turns and share.
Encourage your child to sit at a table to eat with other members of the family so that they get used to eating independently in school.
It is likely that your child will have school meals, so make sure they are familiar with using cutlery and social skills when eating.
It is useful to let them help with clearing away the plates as well.
This article on making mealtimes happier can also help you when it comes to getting them to try new foods and behave at the dinner table.