Getting Ready for Reception

You can help your child look forward to school by removing the fear of the unknown. If they already go to a Nursery or Pre-school, the move up to 'Big school' should be a bit easier, but in any case, knowing what to expect will help. Always be positive and enthusiastic about all the fun things that will happen at school, use their teacher's name so it feels familiar and talk about the new friends they'll make.

At school, there are things children are expected to do for themselves that you may still help them with at home. Try to encourage them to do these things now independently.

Self Help Skills

Get dressed (and undressed)

Make a game out of putting on their school uniform and changing into their PE kit. Then changing back again. You’ll soon find out which bits they need to practise. Practise doing up coats, shoes, buttons and zips. Tie-up shoes might be a bit difficult. Go for shoes with Velcro fasteners if possible. 

Go to the toilet, wash and dry their hands

Make sure your child is happy going to the toilet on their own, their uniform is easy to pull down and up (or up and down), and they feel confident enough to put their hand up and ask to go. 

Eat with others and use cutlery

All children in England and Wales are entitled to a free school lunch when they start primary school. If your child will be having a hot lunch, look at the school menu with them and talk about what you are booking for them.  If they are having packed lunch, make sure they can open cartons and packets and unwrap a sandwich without help. 

What children can do

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

One of the most important social skills for your child to learn before starting school is to share and take turns. You can encourage this through activities like family board games and giving your child opportunities to play with other children.

Another useful way to support your child is by talking about how other people or characters in stories are feeling and why. Perhaps discuss how they could solve the problem they are having. This will help in developing your child’s ability to see things from another perspective and solve problems.

What children can do

Communication and Language

In Reception class, at certain times your child will be expected to sit still and listen to basic instructions from their teacher. You can help with this at home by sitting together doing a jigsaw, colouring or looking at books. 

What children can do

Reading and Writing

Read stories and look at picture books together. Talk about the illustrations and encourage your child to predict what might happen next. Talk about their favourite character or part of the story. 

Sing Nursery Rhymes together so that before long your child will be able to say them for him or herself and supply the rhyming word: ‘Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the …’ ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on the…’ 

Play ‘I spy’ type games; use the sound of the letters not the name (‘a’ as in apple, not ‘a’ as in ape). Collect things on a tray starting with a certain sound. 

What children can do

Encourage your child to ask for help when needed and to ask or answer questions. If somebody asks your child a question, give him or her time to think and try not to provide the answer yourself.  

To help develop pre-writing skills encourage your child to draw, colour and do tracings, including drawing around their hand or tracing patterns in sand or rice.

Let your child see you write for different purposes such as notes,

shopping lists and letters. This will show him or her the reason for writing.

Praise and encourage any attempts that your child makes to write.

Help your child develop their fine and gross motor skills by helping them thread beads or pasta onto string, peg the washing out or take the pegs off. 


Enjoy reciting numbers forwards and backwards or from the middle eg 5,6,7,8.  Number rhymes and songs are great for this.

Take every opportunity  to practise counting with your child eg counting stairs, sweets, cars you see going past, how many jumps they can do.  Let your child help you to set the table and count out the correct number of knives, forks and spoons needed.

Look at and talk about the colour, shape and size of things eg long, short, tall, longer, shorter, taller.  Encourage your child to sort and group things by colour, shape or size eg socks, clothes, buttons etc.

What children can do

Discuss the position of things eg under, over, above, below, in front, behind, next to, between.

Make a pretend shop and let your child use real coins to ‘buy’ items.  

Let your child help with the cooking. This could involve sharing, talking about heavy and light and measuring ingredients. 

Useful books to read with your child