What skills should your child ideally have when starting school?

Starting school is a big event for the whole family, when your little one becomes a little bit more independent. 

Whilst nurseries and childminders do a lot of work with ‘rising 5s’, there’s also plenty you can do to help ensure your child has the necessary skills for their first day at school. 

Take a look at the questions below. If you can answer ‘yes’ to most of the questions and ‘sometimes’ for the rest, your child should do just fine!

> You’ve spent long evenings with the needle and thread putting name tags in their uniform, but can your child recognise their own name? This will help them to put their coat on the right peg, find a lost jumper or tell which schoolbooks are theirs.

> Can they do up the zip and/or buttons on a coat? They’ll be outside and playing a lot faster if they can.

> Are they able to undress and dress themselves? This will be important when it’s time for PE. Can they put clothes in a pile or hang them on a hook, rather than dropping them on the floor?

> When going to the toilet, can they go on their own, wipe themselves properly, and wash their hands afterwards?

> Lunchtimes will go a lot more smoothly if your child can use a knife and fork. If they have a packed lunch, can they open their lunch box, take the lid off a yogurt pot and peel a banana?

> Runny nose? Will your child use a tissue or hanky, rather than their sleeve or their hand?

> Have they got a basic understanding of the alphabet and counting numbers?

> Can they open and hold a book? Cut with scissors? Hold a pencil?

> Will your child be able to sit still, listen to & follow instructions from the teacher, and focus on a simple task for a certain amount of time?

> Do they know how to share and take turns? And work as part of a group?

> Do they understand the word ‘no’ and boundaries it sets for behaviour?

> Do they understand the word ‘stop’ and that it might be used to prevent danger?

> Encourage your child to make eye contact with adults. Have you explained they may need to put their hand up to get the teacher’s attention, answer a question, or ask for help?

> Do they use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’? It can go a long way.

At the end of the day, having to help just one child with a coat zip at playtime will be much easier for a teacher or teaching assistant to manage, than a whole class.