Mums & Tots: The countdown to starting school

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Did you recently find out which school your child will be going to in September? If it’s your first experience of a child starting school it can be an emotional time for both you and the child. I remember when I was in a similar position a few years ago I didn’t know where to start: what did I need to buy? what does my child need to know? how do I get them ready? how do I get me ready? and how do I make best use of the time we have before she has to be at school everyday?

This post will give you all the information you need to make the most of the time before your child starts school.

Planning Adventures and Special Memories

Whether you are a stay at home parent, you work full time or something in between you can choose to spend the last few months before school making special memories. When children first start school they can struggle with tiredness and just want to rest at weekends for a while so it makes the time before school starts extra special. A fun idea can be to put together a list of everything you would both like to do, from the simple to the extravagant. Here are lots of ideas from: Real Mum Reviews, Mummy 2 Twindividuals, Confessions of a Crummy Mummy and Adventures of a Mum.

Getting Children Ready For Starting School


So you have fun times planned, but how do you help your child feel ready for school? It can be quite a scary time for them, particularly if they haven’t gone to preschool so it is helpful to familiarise them with what will happen. Between The Ladybirds’ Adventures and The Queen of Collage they have found 7 books which cover starting school. Reading can be a great way to start a conversation and help children to verbalise any fears they might have.

Practical Skills

Children aren’t expected to start school and be completely independent, but it is helpful if they can get dressed in their school uniform themselves after PE (zips instead of buttons are good) and carry their lunch tray. Here are a few other ideas of what to do to help children get ready for school and become more independent.

If you think your child really isn’t ready then you might find this post interesting where Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs talks about delaying school for a year.

Reading and Writing

Opinion is divided on how much you should do with children academically before they start school. I know there were some children in my daughter’s class who could already read and write all their letters while plenty of others couldn’t. The local Children’s Centre advised us that it was good if children could write their name, but there was no pressure for more than that. Some children will want to learn more before they start and others won’t so parents shouldn’t feel under pressure. The child’s birth month has a huge impact on children at this age too with some children only having just turned 4 and others about to turn 5 when they walk through the school gates for the first time. Mum of 2.5 wrote this post about why they haven’t taught their child the abc and Mummy 2 Twindividuals wrote about the Early Years Framework targets and activities to encourage early writing skills.

Whatever level your child is at before they start school you will probably find this post on Phonics for Parents helpful to learn some of the terminology your child will use over the first few years. I nearly spluttered out my tea when my eldest said such and such was a “split digraph”. It’s surprising just how early on you might have to start googling what they are actually learning.

What To Buy

Schools will normally hold a meeting towards the end of summer term to tell parents what they need to know and buy, but my post on what to buy and when before starting school might help if you want to start planning now.

How To Prepare Yourself

Finally don’t forget that becoming a school run Mum or Dad can be a big transition for you too. It’s not unusual to have mixed feelings or even to cry as you walk away from the gates on the first day. Here are a few posts with advice aimed at helping parents with any worries they may have: To the parent whose child starts reception this year, The highs and lows of becoming a first time school mum and advice from a primary school teacher

Do you have any other questions not covered here? Let us know in the comments.

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About Kate Kirk

Kate lives on the border of London and Essex surrounded by the chaos caused by her two daughters, cat and partner. When she can distract her toddler for long enough she blogs at about honest parenting. As a co-parenting, non-dairy eating, occasionally depressed and often shouty mother of girls who love toys, books, going out and mess she covers a bit of everything and is often covered in everything. You can find her chatting away on Twitter (EssexKate), Instagram (EssexKate) and Facebook (CountingToTenBlog) when she should probably be tidying the house.