Is your child starting school in September? Here’s what you need to know

Reception class children at Worlingham Primary School. Picture: Nick Butcher

Reception class children at Worlingham Primary School. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Starting school is one of the most significant milestones for a child - and their parents. Lauren Cope has pulled together a guide for those with sons and daughters taking the leap in one week's time.

Children starting school. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Children starting school. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

How to cope with anxiety

It's normal for both parents and children to suffer from separation anxiety at the start of school.

Eleanor Cockerton, primary PGCE course co-director at the University of East Anglia, gave some words of advice.

• Make sure everything is organised for a calm start.


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• Make it a special occasion, with a new school bag, for example.

• Organise something to look forward to at the end of the day - a favourite tea or new book, perhaps.

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• Be on time for pick-up, so your child isn't anxious.

• Be kind to yourself - it can be as hard for you as it is for them. Try not to put your worries onto them.

• Find out what your school's expectations are for the beginning and end of the day, agree with your child when you will leave, and stick to your word. Try not to prolong the goodbye.

• Be prepared to get the short end of the stick - your youngsters are going through a lot, and, even if they've settled well, will still be tired and need your attention.

• If they still aren't settled after a week, talk to your teacher. We expect a lot of our four-year-olds and it is difficult, but in my experience they all get there in the end.

What to take?

You've probably talked them through the school day and you might have met some of their classmates, but what do you need to remember for the big day?

Generally, there isn't that much for reception pupils to take, and most schools will have issued a list of vital items.

But a change of clothes is worth including in their bag - a spare set can avoid embarrassment if they get messy or have an accident.

A raincoat or warm jacket will be important if their class is heading outside, as well as a weather appropriate sports kit.

For reception pupils, pencils and rulers are often provided, but, if not, a few basic items might be worth having, along with a bottle of water.

And one to remember beforehand - label their clothes. There will be no end of missing jumpers, shirts and shorts over the next few months, so help yourself as much as possible with sewn in, ironed or scribbled down name tags on everything you can.

What will they learn?

Much of the work in reception is focused on learning basic skills and building confidence.

In maths, they'll learn about numbers and work on simple calculations, adding, subtracting and counting in twos, fives and 10s.

Children will be taught to recognise common 2D and 3D shapes, as well as form patterns.

In English, they'll learn the alphabet and common words - and, the, as and it, for example - as well as phonics blends, how certain letters sound together.

Children in reception will also begin writing - they'll be taught how to hold a pencil, form letters, words and, down the line, sentences.

Science lessons will help children understand the world around them.

They will take part in experiments and use drawings and charts to illustrate their findings, often with outdoors activities.

They will receive their first lesson in ICT and computers as well.

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