So your child is starting School in September and if you are anything like me you will be full of mixed emotions. I’m sure you will be worrying how they will cope, wondering if they will miss you and hoping they make friends. Many parents panic that their child wont know enough or be able to do enough when they start School. As a Foundation stage teacher I get a lot of parents asking what should my child be able to do when starting school? You may be surprised by the ten things I and other teachers I know think are the most important.
Yes, it is helpful if your child can recognise their name, to enable them to find their coat hook or other personal items quickly, but they will soon be taught that. Many schools use pictures, or even photographs of the child, to help children learn where they put their things to begin with. The children will soon begin learning letters, numbers and words in line with the national learning framework. If your child can read and write some words before they start school, then great, but don’t panic if they can’t.
- Be able to go to the toilet themselves. By this I mean, let an adult know when they need the toilet and be able to wipe themselves and wash their hands. If they need help with tights and buttons that’s fine. If your child still has the occasional accident, make sure you pack a spare change of clothes for them.
- Be able to dress and undress themselves. When buying their uniform think about what will be easy for them to do. Also PLEASE label your child’s clothes. 30 of the same jumper is not an easy task to find. If your child isn’t confident at getting dressed, stop helping in the Summer so they can practise. Make games out of getting dressed for example challenge them to beat the time.
- Be able to put socks and shoes and their coat on. Here is a YouTube video for one of the ways you can teach them to put their coat on. When buying School shoes, don’t buy laces unless your child is confident at doing them up and undoing them. Again practise this in the summer holidays. Make it fun!
- Be able to feed themselves. If they are having packed lunch, show them how to open their lunch box. Make sure that you pack things they can open and eat.
- Be able to share and take turns. You can help this at home by playing games together and encouraging sharing behaviour when at home and out and about.
- Be able to recognise their name. Writing it is a bonus, but recognising it is the first step. Start by having a picture next to their name. I have created a Pinterest board with some great, fun ideas.
- Be able to sit and concentrate. This can be a challenging one especially for the boys and for those that are younger. You can encourage this by sitting and listening to a story together or helping them to independently concentrate on a task. Let them do things like a jigsaw or lego independently.
- Be able to understand boundaries for acceptable behaviour. Encourage your child to listen to all adults as there will be a variety of adults within the classroom setting. Praise good behaviour and if anything works at home let the teacher know so that they can do the same.
- Be able to listen to a story. If they can make up their own stories even better. Try to make time each day to look at and share books. Have books in a reachable place for them to access when they want. I love these bookcases where the child can see and select a book. You can make up stories together whilst cooking the tea, driving and doing other jobs. For example Once there was a little boy who lived in a Castle, what was his name? What did the castle look like? Who lived in the castle with him?
- Be able to count. If your child can count to at least 10 this will help. Again if they cant don’t panic. If they can recognise some numbers even better, but they will be taught this. Count when you are doing every day things with your child, count out the plates, sing number songs, get them to count their toys. I have another Pinterest board with some great activities.
Please don’t worry if there are things on this list that your child can’t do. If you have concerns, speak to your child’s teacher when they do a home visit or at the start of term. If your child has Special Educational Needs these points may take longer to master. Remember every child is different and things that come easily to some come later to others.