Ready for school tips

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Developing independence skills for school

Going to school is a big change for most children with a new environment, new adults, new expectations and new routines to learn. 

Developing independence skills in young children takes time, patience and lots of encouragement. By offering opportunities for your child to try new things, make mistakes and and giving them the time to try and try again will encourage them to be independent. 

Your daily routine offers lots of opportunities to encourage your child to learn to be independent and offering praise will encourage your child to keep trying again and again.

Here are some top tips:

Getting dressed

boy in grey crew-neck t-shirt playing outside
  • Encourage your child to put on an item of clothing. Talk them through the process such as lay the skirt on the floor and tell them to sit on their bottom and tell them to put their feet through the hole - Getting dressed can lead to lots of frustration and this is either to do with the item of clothing or because they feel rushed. so consider velcro shoes, clothing with no buttons or zips to start with. 
  • Pajamas are a good item of clothing to practice on - when your child is not too tired- because they usually have elasticated waists, are stretchy and don't have fiddly bits.
  • Help them practice getting teddies and dolls dressed. 
  • Try to practice getting changed when everyone is calm and there is no rush as this can add to the stress.

Meal times

girl eating cereal in white ceramic bowl on table
  • When sitting down for meal times and you are helping your child with cutting up their food or putting it on a fork talk your child through the process as you do it.
  • Offer your child their own cutlery set so you both have a set each, this way they can have a go too!
  • when you are wanting them to try and cut food up try it when they have food that is easy to cut such as soft vegetables or fish this will reduce the frustration.
  • Use role play as a time to practice these skills even further such as have a picnic with their superheroes or the dolls so they practice using the spoon and cup.
  • Offer your child smaller versions of jugs and cups so they can 'have a go' at pouring a drink or pouring the gravy on their dinner. Using a small jug is lighter and easier for them to hold.

Self care

man in gray long sleeve shirt holding baby in red and white long sleeve shirt
  • Remind your child to wash their hands after going to the toilet and before meals. Talk them through the process, such as first we turn the tap on, then put soap on your hands, then rub them together, then rinse and dry with the towel. Using the same routine will remind them when they are ready to do it themselves.
  • when your child has a runny nose, gently tell them that they have a runny nose and need to get a tissue. telling them this, instead of just doing it for them helps them recognise the feeling of a dirty nose. Teach them how to blow their nose and put their tissue in the bin.
  • When your child looks hot and sweaty or cold from the weather tell them so they start to recognise the feeling and it helps them regulate theses feelings - 'Oh your hands are really hold and you are shivering, lets put a coat on because it is cold outside'. This helps your child recognise how they feel so they can eventually recognise this themselves.

Social skills

two girls playing balloon
  • Play games together with your child, this helps them understand that there are rules for different games and so they can practise taking turns. You may need to remind them each time that its 'my turn, your turn, my turn, your turn'
  • have play dates with friends so your child has a chance to mix with different child and their different personalities, it helps your child to experience different situations.
  • Playing with others will give your child a chance to learn how to share. They will need support with this so when they want something that someone else has encourage them to wait their turn and distract them with something else. For young children waiting and sharing can be hard skills to learn but an essential skill for when they go to school and they are playing independently. supporting them to learn this skill is essential to reduce frustration. 

For more information about going to school click on the link on the sidebar.


Top Tip

Helping your child be ready for school starts from birth. Everything that you do from singing, playing with them, commenting on things as you do them, listening to them, offering them comfort and so on, all prepares your child for starting school. Supporting your child with the transition to school is really important to help them understand what is going to happen.
More information about going to school
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