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10 tips to prepare your child for the start of school

As thousands of four year olds get ready to start school over the next few weeks, there are also thousands of parents feeling just a little bit emotional. 

Whether it’s your first child or fifth, sending them off to school for the first time is a big deal. 

You might have seen on my social media posts that I’ve been counting down the days for the past month. And I’m genuinely looking forward to him starting – because like so many four year olds he can behave, er, like a bit of a dick at times. Although in his defence, find me a four year old that doesn’t.

A friend of mine thinks this is Mother Nature’s way of preparing us parents for them to start school. When they’ve been a nightmare for the previous six weeks, we’re more likely to wave them off happily on that first day, then run to the nearest alcohol-serving establishment. 

This is in fact EXACTLY what myself and a group of pre-school mums are planning to do on that first day (er, 2.5 hours!), any excuse and all that. 

Emotional times as kids start school

I have friends with only one child who are absolutely devastated that their sons and daughters are about to start school. It’s an end of an era for them.

In that sense nothing will change for me. I’ll still have the Twins running riot at home for the next two years. But I do think my life (bar the school runs) will become infinitely easier during those six hours of the school day when I only have two little boys to entertain/contain/lift down from window sills as opposed to three. But we’ll see…

Mild panic

However when I actually stop and think about how the four year old is about to start school, I do find myself having a mild panic. 

I’ve written before about my concerns in Getting your four year old ‘ready’ to start school – mainly centred around all the things he still CAN’T do, albeit he’s pretty good now compared to when I wrote that.

If I think about him stood in the canteen queue looking at food there’s no way he’ll ever eat, and not knowing what to do – my heart literally breaks. I know there will be people to help him, and he’ll get used to it. Shit, he might even EAT something by the end of term! But it still renders me an emotional wreck. So I’m trying not to think about that bit. I’m focusing on how he’s going to bore his teachers to death with dinosaur facts or which is favourite Transformer is on that particular day.

I’m focusing more on the positives and chatting to him lots about what is going to happen. If you’re worried about how your child will settle in during that first week in reception, here are some great tips from other bloggers. 

Image by Gábor Adonyi from Pixabay


  • Practise the walk to school with them beforehand so it’s a little more familiar for them. My son had his favourite teddy his school bag (named) so that if he got really upset he knew he was there who wants anxiety with him. www.over40andamumtoone.com
  • Practise helping them try on their uniform beforehand so they’re used to wearing it. Helping them learn how to get changed in and out of it will help when they start doing PE lessons too. www.missmanypennies.com

Read lots of school stories

  • Read them stories about starting school and get them to try on their uniform. Do first day at school pictures before the first day! www.twinsandtravels.com
  • Make sure you have everything ready each morning so it’s not a rush. Leave in plenty of time so it’s not stressful. A calm walk or drive to school and a bit of a play in the playground before school is preferable to a stressful dash as the gates are closing. Save that for week two! www.theincidentalparent.com
  • Talk to them about their day and what they will do such as hanging up their coats, eating their lunch etc. This way they can ask any questions they are unsure about and there won’t be so many surprises on their first day. www.imperfectmummy.com

Preparation for the start of school

  • Preparation is key. During the summer holidays you need to be constantly preparing your child for what is ahead. Walk past their new school several times, try the uniform on and most importantly – get together with some of the children (and parents!) who will be in their new class. Above all, make it seem exciting and enjoyable. Focus on the positive.  www.mrsmactivity.co.uk
  • It’s tempting to make up stories and tell them white lies, but the sooner they realise that school is something they will have to deal with for years to come, the more accepting they will become of it. Tell them the real thing: grown-ups go to work and children go to school. But make it sound exciting and enticing – they have to go so that they can make new friends and learn to read by themselves and learn interesting things about the world. www.talesfrommamaville.com
  • We read lots of books about starting school, what school was like and any cartoons or TV shows that showed the school in a positive light. We then created our own starting school book – with photographs, drawings and added to it during the first week with names of people and friends that they made. www.rainydaymum.co.uk

Teach them to recognise their name

  • Teach them what their name looks like. I know it sounds really basic but so many of their coat/pegs/drawers/uniform/books will all have their name on and it’s a huge advantage to be able to recognise it – and hopefully you won’t lose as much stuff! www.twinderelmo.co.uk
  • Not all children will settle in straight away but that’s okay. It’s exhausting, overwhelming and over-stimulating, and going to five days a week can be too much for some. Give them those cuddles, that time to chill, don’t push them on what they’ve done and take each term as it comes. www.emmareed.net

Is your child starting school in the next few weeks? How have you prepared them? 

How did I do?

Did you enjoy this post? You might like some of my others, so how about you have a read of Getting Your Four Year Old Ready For School, A Stay At Home Mum’s Mixed Emotions At The Start Of Pre-school or How To Do The School Run With Babies In Tow.

If you like a bit of social media madness, pop over to my Facebook page where you’ll be able to have a laugh at what ridiculousness goes on in my house with three very small boys on a daily basis. Warning – there is often sarcasm, and usually swearing. There are also great travel reviews and some AWESOME giveaways. Feel free to join my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee – Shits and Giggles Parenting Group too, where everyone shares their hilarious stories.

And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here or at helen@twinstantrumsandcoldcoffee.com and I’ll get back to you.

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