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Preparing Your Child For Reception Year

Thousands of parents across the country are currently preparing to send their four-year-olds off to school for the first time in just a couple of weeks.

The first day of school can feel daunting for parents and children alike, but there are lots of things you can do to prepare for that big day. Here are a few:

  • Practise going to the toilet alone. When children begin their reception year this can be the first time they are expected to do things like this by themselves. Schools usually do not have the extra resources for staff to be able to help children in the toilets so it’s good to practise these things beforehand.
  • Practise lunchtime skills. Another thing schools often don’t have extra resources for is help at lunch times. Things like cutting up and eating hot meals or opening a lunch box and any packets inside are all useful skills that are often overlooked.
  • Don’t practise letters! This might sound counterintuitive, but reception year is mostly spent learning letters - and many schools have their own way of doing this. It can often be confusing for children who have learned some or all of the letters of the alphabet at home to then come to school and find that they need to know them with different sounds, or written in slightly different ways.
  • Practise getting dressed and undressed. Once they have settled into school, most children will begin having PE lessons - which means removing the uniform you have lovingly helped them to put on in the morning, putting on a PE kit, and then later removing the PE kit and putting the uniform back on. This is another thing teachers don’t really have the time to help with, unless they want to spend more time on dressing and undressing than actual PE! This is actually something to consider when buying uniform too - things like buttons and ties can be tricky for small fingers.
  • Meet other children from the class. Many schools these days have an open morning before term begins, or there may be a Facebook group for parents. Ask around and find parents of other children beginning school this September and arrange a park visit; this can be a great way for children to feel more familiar when they first step foot in school - and for parents too!
  • Buy more name labels than you think you need. It is always useful to have a supply of spare name labels in the cupboard for emergencies; there is always something we forget to name.
  • Make sure your child has a sun hat. When school begins in September it may well still be sunny and many schools will allow children outside as much as possible, especially in reception year when they are still getting used to being in a classroom all day. A named sun hat will prove useful.
  • Practise spending time concentrating. Doing things like jigsaw puzzles can be great preparation for school, as children learn to sit and concentrate on the same thing for a while. Jigsaws also help with fine motor skills which is useful for those who will be only just four when they begin school or have had difficulty in this area.
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