Starting Reception is an exciting milestone. As a parent, you can prepare your child so that their transition to school life is exciting and fun. Here are some friendly tips developed by our Pre Prep and Early Years teachers, to support you in the months before your child starts school.

There is international evidence that children’s long term attainment is crucially shaped by their development in four key areas: language development and communication skills;
attitudes and dispositions; social competence and self esteem, and emotional wellbeing.
So, while your child may also develop cognitive and academic skills (mentioned further below), our advice centres around these areas first.

Language & Communication: Reading to and with your child from an early age delivers proven benefits. Immersing yourselves in a book develops language skills, stimulates their imagination and expands vocabulary. Make reading fun by pointing out pictures and encouraging your child to talk about the story and its characters. Talk about stories. Children love feeling included! Help the world around them fit into the stories they are reading. Paddington likes Marmalade sandwiches; do you? Shall we make some and see?

Social competence: Play-dates with friends and other sociable activities help build social skills in an informal way. Learning to share, take turns, and listen are skills that will help your child when they are in the classroom. Group activities, such as music or sports, can also help them learn to cooperate and work in a team.

During the early days of their educational journey, your child will be learning to play with other children. It is a good idea to encourage your child to choose to share or join in with others. You can prompt this by asking them what they think another child is doing in the park and see if they would like to try that too.

Practical skills that raise self esteem and give your child confidence in their ability to navigate their day in their new Reception class include:

Learning to dress and undress themselves. Encourage independence so that your child can take off and put on jackets and coats, do up buttons and zips and put on and take off their shoes. A few weeks before school starts, have a go at putting on the uniform – it’s fun and it will help the clothes feel more comfortable on that first day.

Being able to use the toilet independently and wash their hands properly without help is important. When your child starts Reception they will be building up their immunity, so good hygiene is important to their health.

Can your child recognise their own name? This is an important skill in school. You can help by using and showing them their name written down as often as possible. Stickers or stamps with their name can make this fun.
Eating lunch with their new friends is a fun part of the school day. You can practise at mealtimes at home,using cutlery and putting things on a tray for your child to carry.

Emotional wellbeing: Supportive relationships with you and their caregivers makes your child feel loved and safe, so they can build confidence to try things and the resilience to bounce back when things don’t work. Relationships with wider family and friends also gives a sense of belonging. Consistent daily routines at home give a sense of structure, including regular bedtimes, mealtimes, and playtimes to promote a sense of stability.

Developing other skills
Your child is developing their skills all of the time and, for children in the Early Years, it is crucial that they are learning through play and having fun as they learn. When it comes to being ready for school, research indicates cognitive and academic skills, such as reading and writing, are not as important as children who are confident, independent and curious.
Numeracy: Learning numbers by counting, sorting objects and looking at patterns will help your child develop their early maths skills. You can play a number spot game when you are out and about; there are numbers everywhere – on doors, buses and cars. Stable order counting is one of the five number principles they will learn in reception; help them by counting everything: number of swings, puddles, flowers or cars. Challenge them by asking, “how many or how high can you count?”
Fine motor skills: Drawing, colouring, cutting with child-safe scissors, and creative play with building blocks are examples of activities that help build fine motor skills. If they are ready, your child can try mark-making and writing their own name. You can help develop children’s fine motor skills with everyday tasks, like doing up buttons or helping to prepare food (whether that’s opening a packet or kneading dough!)
Coordination and overall development is supported through physical activity including running, jumping, climbing, outdoor games and play. Blowing bubbles and catching a ball require great hand eye coordination.

With all skills, practice and plenty of positive reinforcement along the way will make a big difference to your child’s confidence and interest levels.

Lastly, do visit school Open Days and a taster event for the school you would like your child to attend. Seeing the school and meeting teachers will help replace anxiety with excitement about starting school. You are invited to visit Brighton Girls Prep and meet our Head of Early Years at our next Open day or join one of our regular tours.

‘What does “School Ready” really mean? A research report from Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, Sept 2014.

Resilience: how to build it in children aged 3-8 years:


Here at Brighton Girls School we are an all-through independent school for girls aged 4 to 18 located in Brighton, East Sussex. To read and learn more about our school, see more posts and news on our blog.