Starting school – what you need to know

As your child transitions from nursery to primary school, find out what skills they'll need, the uniform you'll need to buy and how you can prepare them for the change - plus how to ease their first day of school worries or nerves (as well as your own)

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Your child starting school is a huge deal, and an amazing milestone moment – one that comes with lots of pressure, mixed with lots of excitement, anxiety and nerves, especially for the first day.

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It’s likely you’ve been talking to them about starting school for a while now, but there’s lots you can do to get ready for and prepare them for the change.

There’s lots you can do to ease your own anxieties and worries, and make sure they don’t rub off on your child, too 😊

Here’s everything you need to know about your child starting school…

Is my child ready for primary school?

ready for primary school

All children are different – so though they all start ‘big’ school around the age of 4 or 5, that doesn’t mean they’ll all be at the same stage of development.

There are lots of things you can look at – which we’ve detailed in our starting school checklist – to help make sure your little one’s ready for the change.

Lots of these checks will be done by your health visitor when your child’s around 3.5 years old (depending on your area) – but you can always keep tabs on certain things yourself.

Signs to think about include:

  • Can they see and hear well?
  • Can your child hold a pencil easily?
  • Can your child speak in 4 or 5 word sentences?

Don’t worry though, they don’t need to be able to count to 38372925 to be ready, says reception teacher Karen R.

“Parents often believe that their child must be able to read, write, count and know their letters and numbers when they start school, but actually the first 6 weeks are spent settling children in and getting them into a routine.”

Checklist: Is your child ready to start school?

Shopping for starting school

uniform

With so many emotions to contend with, shopping just feels like another hurdle to overcome.

Luckily, we’ve got your shopping list sorted for ya: here’s every piece of uniform your child will need for the year.

And here’s the ultimate guide to 2018 school uniform options from the major UK supermarkets, so you know where you’re going.

Top tip: go for uniforms that are simple (if your school allows it), i.e. easy to pull on trousers, elasticated skirts, avoid button downs and opt for velcro-fastening shoes.

You probably won’t need much in the way of stationery for a child going into reception – though you will need to get them a water bottle, lunchbox, and school bag:

One of the banes of school life is losing possessions – and something will inevitably go astray. Introduce the idea of having belongings and remembering to put them back in their bag.

When it comes to labelling clothing, ask your child to choose a special symbol that is a unique mark – perhaps a smiley face or a star – to help them recognise their things at a glance in those fraught early weeks when everyone’s items may look identical.

Lastly, you’ll need to think about buying the first pair of school shoes.

Give yourself plenty of time to buy these, as you’ll likely need to pop in store to get your child’s feet measured.

If you can afford it, find a good quality shop like Clarks or John Lewis to get it done. There are ways to tell if your child’s shoes are fitting right just at home, too…

  • A quick and effective way to check if your child’s shoes fit properly is to draw round his foot on a piece of paper. Place the shoe on top of the outline
  • If the shoe doesn’t cover the whole outline, they’re too small for his feet
  • The toe area should be foot-shaped and of sufficient depth which will allow the toes to move freely
  • The heel height should be no more than 4cm with a broad base of shock absorbing material
  • The shoe should fit snugly round the heel area, held on by laces, Velcro or a leather strap.

Buying school shoes – the ultimate guide

Share your stories and advice

We think we’ve covered a lot of the basics, but are there any tips you’d add for mums and dads about to send their little ones off into the brave new world of primary school?

We’d LOVE for you to share your stories and your tips on Instagram, Facebook or in the comments below

Images: Getty Images

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