Starting school can be a nervous and daunting experience, for parents as well as children! Hayley Garland, Reception Teacher in Surrey, shares her advice for starting out in reception to help families with this big step...

Please remember that you are vitally important when it comes to your child’s education. How your child learns, grows and develops is not just down to the school/teacher, it’s down to you as well. Children are not expected to start school already reading or writing, but there are lots of things you can do to support them.

Read to them

Model how to hold a book upright, turn the pages, and follow the words with your finger to demonstrate that (in English) we read from left to right and top to bottom. Don't cover up the pictures - they are an integral part of your child’s understanding of the book. Instead, try focusing just on the illustrations, discussing any clues to what might happen next in the story.

Non-fiction books are important too - show them the glossary/contents page and how to use them. Explain that books aren’t just 'stories' but also help us to find out information. Oh, and don't just read books either! Children need to understand that reading is a skill that will unlock lifelong learning. Read the timetable at the bus stop, and the cooking instructions on a packet of pasta together.

Help them to recognise their name

There is no point naming your child’s belongings if they can’t recognise their whole name (not just the first letter). If you want to see your child’s jumper again, help them to identify their own name in a range of situations. Stick their name on the fridge, their toy box, or anywhere they are going to see it. Use different fonts (small letters and joined up letters as well as printed capital letters) and make sure to use the version of their name that they recognise - for example, don’t write Josh/Bella if you’ve put Joshua/Isabella on the label. Make sure your child’s teacher knows which version of their name to use on their peg or drawer labels too!

Encourage activities that promote concentration

Anything that helps your child to persevere for a short length of time (more than five minutes, if possible), such as puzzles and board games. Unfortunately, television and iPads don't count here! Bonus points if they’re working as part of a pair or small team of cousins/siblings/friends.

Make maths part of everyday

Count how many steps it is to get to the bottom of the garden, how many blue cars are in the car park, sing number songs and rhymes when you’re stuck in traffic, match up pairs of socks and find the odd one out, compare sizes (are they bigger, smaller, the same or different?), measure things in simple ways such as different sized containers in the bath (capacity), look for different shapes in the environment e.g. which road signs are circular, triangular or rectangular.

At Explore Learning, our mission is to help children excel academically, be confident in the classroom, thrive in exams and be fearless in school and beyond! Find out how we can support children from 4-14 blossom with our maths & English tuition.

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