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School Readiness

School can seem a big step for both children and parents. It’s normal for every child to develop at a slightly different pace. There are lots of activities you can do with your little one to help them develop the skills they need for school. Here are some tips and links to support you on your journey to having a great start in the classroom!

Every child will develop at a different rate. If you’re unsure where you child is at in their development, visit this What to expect, when? Guide. Contact your local health visiting service if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health or development.

Use our leaflet on School Readiness to help see what you can encourage your child to learn to make the transition easier for everyone.


Getting dressed

Putting on clothes is a tricky skill. It requires both big and small movements. Buttons and zips can be fiddly for small fingers. Velcro or buckles are much easier to fasten shoes. For PE get children trainers rather than pumps as they better support little feet – if shoes are comfy children will enjoy physical activity much more! Practice putting shoes on the correct feet. Draw half a smiley face inside each shoe – this can help children with their left and right!

Help your child to get dressed by choosing school uniform that is easier to get on and off such as elasticated waists. Practice putting it on (the right way round!) and taking it off before their first day – lots of encouragement and making it fun will help them to be excited and want to keep trying. Be sure to plan extra time in the morning so that it is not a stressful rush.

Try this Ready, Steady, Dress activity from PACEY to build the excitement together at home.

Ready for lunch!

All children are entitled to a nutritionally balanced school meal in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 free of charge. Children will need to feel confident eating independently, using a knife and fork and sat at a table. Get your child used to this by eating as a family at the table at home – practicing cutting up food and even get them to carry their own plate and clear it away, they may be expected to do this at school.

To support your child to eat well, including a variety of fruits and vegetables – at least 5-a-day – make sure you often expose your little one to new foods, and in different forms – raw or cooked, in sticks or in slices, on their own or as part of a meal. Try to incorporate a variety of textures too – smooth, lumpy and crunchy foods, as this will help your child to learn to like a range of different food.

It is perfectly normal for toddlers to refuse to eat or be a fussy eater. Make sure you give them the right portion – children have tiny tummies so will eat little and often rather than a big meal. To help keep bodies and teeth healthy, children should only drink plain water or unflavoured milk. Children over one year should drink from a cup or free-flowing beaker with a hard spout.

Child Feeding Guide Tips and Tricks

Be Sugar Smart! Check out these tips for Healthier Snacks for Kids

HomeStart Mealtime Routine sheets One and Two


Going to the toilet

Toilet training requires time and patience. Give your child plenty of encouragement and praise when they are dry; don’t get cross or let your child see your frustration when they have an accident. If they have an accident change them in the bathroom. This helps them learn where they should be going. Encourage them to clean themselves by wiping properly using toilet paper and wash their hands if they are able to. Using (non-food) rewards can be helpful when toilet training – stickers work well.

Staying Healthy

Make sure your child is fit and healthy to attend school as much as possible. Remember to take them for their MMR booster and make sure that all their immunisations are up-to-date. Here is a helpful timeline of vaccinations little ones should have.

If your child is unwell and you’re unsure if they should go to nursery or school, check out this page and further info from the NHS here.  We also have a traffic light poster of knowing when to seek help.

Make sure your child knows when they need – and how – to wipe their own nose. Send them to school with a tissue to avoid snotty sleeves!

Did you know that under 5’s can have a free NHS eye test? Don’t worry – they don’t need to be able to recognise letters or read to have their eyes checked. It is important to find eye problems early as it can affect their development and education.

If your child has additional needs or you need additional help getting your child ready for school, your health visiting team could offer support with a personalised care plan. A member of the health visiting team will use the care plan to help you set goals. Together you will agree actions and activities which will enable you to achieve your goal.

Confident and happy child

The Five to Thrive approach includes five key activities for parents/carers to do with their children to support attachment. The Five to Thrive messages support the development of secure attachment and emotional resilience. Do these five key activities every day with your child to help their growing brain develop: Respond · Cuddle · Relax · Play · Talk.

Confident, happy children will find it easier to settle more quickly when you leave them at school. Visiting new places and meeting new people will help children prepare to feel ready to explore their new school environment. Reassure your little one you will be back at the end of the day to collect them from school.

Hungry Little Minds is a resource full of ideas and activities for parents of under 5’s to do with their child to help them learn and discover the world. This will help them get ready for when they start school.

More tips on how to Chat, Play, Read with your child everyday through the different early years stages from National Literacy Trust’s Small Talk project.


We all need sleep. Setting a healthy bedtime routine will help your child to feel ready and prepared to learn at school every day. Being tired affects behaviour and performance at school.

Children aged three to six need roughly between 10-12 hours of sleep a night. So, for a child that wakes at 7am, you should be aiming to be in bed, or at the very least ready for some quiet time, at around 7pm.

Discover some top tips for bedtime and other helpful links.

Lancashire County Council

Your local authority also has lots of helpful information on helping your child transition into school.  Check out their page here which includes a helpful video and their top tips flyer here.

Lancashire Early Years also has a booklet ‘Helping my child get ready for starting school’.