Nursery and Reception (Our Little Hearts)

Getting ready to start school

Children are interested in all sorts of things and enjoy learning and exploring. Starting school is a big moment for children and you as their parents or carers.

Have a look at our video for some hints and tips to help you support your child to be ready for starting school. The video was filmed before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Tips for parents and carers

A child’s first day at school, is a big moment for you and for them and it can be both an exciting and nervous time.

With so much information and lots to prepare for, being in a routine and helping them to get plenty of sleep will help them.

Here are some other ways you can give your child help and encouragement to help them be ready for school.

Speaking and listening

To help make sure your child can:

  • use words, objects or gestures to help them explain what they need to a grown-up
  • listen to and follow instructions
  • sit and listen for a short while, for example to a story
  • tell you when they are hungry, tired or need the toilet

You can:

  • chat with your child when you're out on a walk - talk about what you can see and give them time to chat to you back in a way they are comfortable with
  • listen to your child's questions and help them to answer them
  • talk to them about things you are doing to help them learn and give them time to ask and answer questions
  • provide opportunities for chatting, playing and interacting together
  • spend time together reading, telling stories or singing songs
  • allow opportunities to play, create imagination and build curiosity

Independence skills

To help make sure your child can:

  • put on their coat, fasten it, take it off and hang it up
  • wash and dry their hands by themselves
  • go to the toilet by themselves
  • use a knife and fork to feed themselves
  • drink from a cup

You can:

  • check that your child can undo and do up their clothes. Give them time to practice this
  • show and give your child simple instructions so that they are able to learn how to do these things and give them the time to practice
  • encourage your child to use the toilet so that they are able to go on their own
  • make it fun for your child to practice doing these things and give lots of encouragement and praise
  • sit down and eat meals with your child, encouraging them to taste a variety of healthier foods

Interacting with others

To help make sure your child can:

  • choose the toys they wish to play with and make up ideas of games to play or things to do
  • watch what other children and doing and join in playing with them
  • feel comfortable when you are not around and can communicate with other grown-ups and children

You can:

  • play listening games together, for example Simon Says
  • help your child to use some of their toys to make up a story
  • visit groups together, for example, libraries, play-groups or nursery where they can meet other children and interact with them
  • spend time together talking about the things you know and give your child time to talk back to you about their family and friends
  • spend time together talking about school - answer their questions, find out how they are feeling and talk to them to help put them at ease


Don't worry if your child is unable to do all of these things. Help is available by speaking to

  • your health visitor by ringing 0300 247 0040
  • your child's key worker at nursery
  • primary schools, when you are applying for your child's school place

Alternatively you can visit these websites for more information:

Find services and support local to you through your local Children and Family Wellbeing Service.

Find information about extra help for your child on the special educational needs and disabilities local offer.

Hungry Little Minds (external link) provides lots of simple tips and activities that you can slot into your routine and that children love.

Information for professionals includes how to share this information with families and a leaflet to download.