Moving from nursery to school is a big change in a child’s life; parent’s feel it as much as the children do! For some it is exciting and for others it can be daunting. Everything your child has achieved in their young lives so far, is preparation for this event and beyond. Even so, there are a few things parents can focus on to help children on their way.

Top Tips

  • Communicate regularly, positively and reassuringly about school
  • Prioritise development of their independence skills
  • Role play activities (packed Lunch, dressing for PE)
  • Use fun activities to practice mark making and numbers
  • Socialise with children going to the same school
  • Share books with your children
  • Have a fun summer!


Want to Know More?

Chat about going to school

For those with older siblings, going to school is all part of the family routine.  However, for a first child, school is very unfamiliar concept.  Many children may be fortunate enough to visit their school before they start.  If that doesn’t happen, then take them on a walk to see their new school and chat about what might be different from nursery life.  Find out if there is a summer fete at the school and go along your child. Talk about the happy things you remember from your early school days. Be positive but if they express anxieties, listen and be reassuring.

It’s the little things

A good reception class will still have children learning through fun, play based activities.  What will be different is the number of adults in the classroom. Quite often parents focus on preparing children for the academic demands of school; but for a child to cope they first need to be confident with their independence skills. Think about how well your child can dress themselves, put on their shoes, blow their noses, manage in the toilet and wash their hands?  Sometimes when we are in a hurry we do these things for our children. Take the time to encourage them to accomplish those tasks by themselves.  When they persevere, make sure you give them plenty of praise. 

This leaflet may help you prioritise your child’s needs:


Some children will move from having nursery meals to packed lunches.  If that will be your child, then purchase their school lunchbox early and have a few picnic lunches with them.  Getting things out and packing away is something to be organised about.  Getting a straw in a juice carton successfully, is a skill that certainly needs a bit of coaching!


The trip to buy new school uniform is a big moment.  Buy school clothes early in the summer (leave school shoes until later, as their feet will likely grow).  Involve your child in labelling their clothes as this not only helps with name recognition but gives a sense of ownership; we can hope that this may help them lose less of their possessions!

When school gets going it may be that they have to change for PE. It would be useful and fun to role play a gym session. See how well they change from their clothes into their gym kit and store all their clothes in their bag. Emphasise the importance of keeping their belongings together so they don’t get them muddled up with everyone else’s.

Academic Building Blocks

Children come into school as individuals with a variety of experiences, knowledge and skills.  Most children by this time will be able to make marks with a pencil and some may even be able to write their names; however some may be reluctant. To give children a purpose, perhaps start a scrap book project to gather together memories and keepsakes from their time at nursery, as well as information about the school they are to go to.  Include: pictures of their friends and staff; favourite toys; drawings of the buildings etc. Use cutting, pasting, drawing and mark making. Encourage them to use pencils, felt pens and scissors but don’t pressure them to form letters unless they want to. If a child is able to understand how to make up, down and circular marks on a page they then have the basics towards creating the first letter of their name.  If they don’t achieve this by September, don’t worry; once in school it won’t take them long before their name will be written regularly.

Find opportunities to count and for children to recognise “how many” e.g. “Granny is coming to tea, so how many plates will we need?”  See if they can recognise their door number in a string of numbers.

Switch off screens and play games that require children to concentrate and listen to directions.  This will help them to tune into and listen to teachers.

This site has some useful activity ideas to help parents:

If you want to get an idea about your child’s development level this document is useful – remember there is no expectation that children will have achieved the outcomes in the 4-5 age group until the end of their reception year at school:

It’s always good to know people

None of us really like going to a party where we don’t know anyone.  For children entering a big new building with no familiar faces can feel a bit overwhelming.  Try to arrange summer playdates with children going to the same school, so that they know others will be there when they walk into the playground.  Talk to them about asking children to play who may be on their own at playtime to encourage their initiative and social skills.

Curl up with a book

Join a library to give your child a choice of books to read. After a busy summers day take time to share a book with your child.  Books will be an important component of their learning at school but more than that, it’s another opportunity to be close to your child. It’s a time to hear what they have to say about their day and to check in to see if they have any worries about the changes ahead. 

There are plenty of story books to help children prepare for school:

…and finally

Begin the bedtime and getting up routine a couple of weeks before school starts, so their body clocks have a chance to adjust and get into the right rhythm.

Most of all – enjoy your summer – any fun times you have will contribute to children’s experiences and wellbeing.  A happy mindset will help the child have the right attitude toward school.


For more information