How to get your child ready for their first day at school

Heading off to school for the first time is a huge milestone for your child and for you as a parent. You’ll both be feeling excited and apprehensive and there are a lot of practical things to deal with as well. So it’s important to put in a bit of preparation for the first day of term. This will help make your child’s first day at “big school” as enjoyable as possible.

Here are a few tips for the big day to give your child the confidence and skills they need before starting school.


  1. Visit the school in advance. Hopefully you and your child will already have had the chance to go into the school before the end of last term. But if you haven’t at least take a look at the school from the outside so it’s not totally unfamiliar.
  2. Try walking the route to school during the holidays and check how long it takes. Remember to allow plenty of time – small children walk a lot slower than adults.
  3. Invite future class mates round to play. Your child will feel more confident if they already have a friend at school.
  4. Make sure your child can recognise their own name written down.
  5. Read to your child. Get your child familiar with reading and turning pages. Take a look at our tips on how to get kids reading. Find some books on starting school and read them together.
  6. Talk to your child about starting school and how he/she feels about it. Be positive and enthusiastic. Talk about school as a fun place. But don’t be dismissive of any worries or fears your child may have – it’s normal to be apprehensive.
  7. Practice self care skills such as going to the toilet by themselves, hand-washing, dressing, undressing and putting on shoes.
  8. Take your child with you to buy their school uniform. When you get home let them try putting it on. Buttons can be tricky so don’t worry if they struggle but they’ll still find it exciting to be dressed as a big girl or boy.
  9. Label everything!
  10. Talk about lunch times. If they’re going to have school dinners talk about queuing up. Let them practice carrying a tray with a plate on it and make sure they know how to use cutlery. If your child is going to take a packed lunch, talk about what they’d like to take and let them come with you to choose it in the shops. Take a look at our simple packed lunch ideas for kids.
  11. Check everything is ready a couple of days beforehand so you still have time to get anything you’ve forgotten. Reread any correspondence or lists the school has given you and double check the start time on the first day of term – it’s often a little later than the normal school start time.
  12. The night before the big day, put all the uniform etc. out ready. You don’t want to be rushing round in a panic looking for shoes on the first morning.

And finally don’t forget to prepare yourself. It’s a big step for you too.  Pack a tissue or two and expect to shed a tear – you certainly won’t be alone!



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