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Helping your child prepare for primary school

Talking and playing with your child

Your child may be anxious about starting school. Don’t dismiss your child’s fears. You can help them by talking about how they feel, and by 'showing' them what school might be like when they get there:

  • talk about going to school with your child by playing ‘school’ with them
  • take your child on visits arranged by the school 
  • answer your child's questions
  • emphasise the things they may enjoy doing  
  • prepare them as best you can for going to the toilet and playing with other children during ‘playtime’

Encouraging independence

Children who can do things for themselves gain confidence. You could make sure that your child can:

  • use the toilet and wash their hands properly
  • dress and undress by themselves as m​uch as possible
  • choose games and books to enjoy
  • play with other children and practise taking turns
  • ask for help if they don't understand something

In the weeks before school starts,​ you could:

  • involve your child in choosing things they may need to take with them
  • talk about visits made to the school and the routine of the school day
  • establish routines at home so that your child gets enough sleep and has a good breakfast

If your child has a good idea of what school is going to be like, they'll find their first days less stressful. 

Starting school

Nearly all children start school in the September of the school year in which they turn five years of age. This is so that they can experience three terms in a reception class and get to know each other at the same time.

Children in school nurseries and reception class are both taught using the foundation stage curriculum.

Delaying a child's start date may result in additional childcare costs.

Registering for a primary school reception place

3 to 5 year olds: early years foundation stage curriculum


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