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Starting primary school after lockdown

Starting primary school is a big event in every child’s life, in every parent’s life, too. It’s a big change that’s exciting and a bit scary. Even if your child went to the school nursery or has other friends starting they might still be a bit nervous, and most children haven’t had the chance to prepare for moving up to primary school. 

This is a big day for everyone, but don’t worry their new teachers will understand that things have been different, and they’ll be focussed on helping your child settle. There are things you can do to get them ready so they have a happy first day.

Starting school is really exciting, but it can also be a bit scary! In this short film, head teacher Kevin Brack has practical tips and advice on what you can do to make going into P1 a really special, positive experience.

Should my child know their ABCs and 123s before school?

While it’s natural to worry about things like reading and number skills when your child is starting school, there’s no reason to stress about these right now. No one expects you to be a teacher to prepare them for their first day – you’re already doing the most amazing job in the world. And all the little things you do, like playing, enjoying books, pictures and stories together, are great for getting them ready for school. It might help to think about all the other great skills your little one is getting to grips with, like having independence, taking turns and sharing. These will all help your child settle in and they will learn lots of other new skills once they step into the classroom.

Remember that all children learn in their own time, at their own pace, and their teacher will support your little one to do just that. 

Helping your child prepare for primary school

Tip #1: Tell them all about it

Talking to your child about their new school and telling them about it can help them to feel more settled. Make sure they know the name of the school and their teacher’s name. Tell them what they can expect on the first day. You could even tell them about what you remember from your first day.

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Tip #2: Encourage independence

Being able to get dressed, have lunch and go to the toilet by themselves are important skills to have when they’re at school but don’t worry if they can’t yet do it all on their own, you can help them practise in small steps; maybe socks one day, hand washing the next!

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Tip #3: Show them their name

They might not be used to seeing their name written down. Teach them what their name looks like, as their own spaces in the class and cloakrooms might be labelled with their name.

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Tip #4: Talk to them

They might be wee, but they will have their own thoughts and worries about starting school. Ask them what they’re excited about and tell them what you remember about school.

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Tip #5: Have a dry run

Take them for a walk to their school. This will help them get used to the trip they’ll be making each day and give them a better idea of what to expect.

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Tip #6: Keep a routine

Even if your child went to nursery before lockdown, they may be out of their normal routine, and going to school every day is a bit different. Keep their bedtime and morning routines consistent in the lead up to starting school and it might make the transition easier.

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Tip #7: Be excited

Your child picks up on your emotions so be happy and excited about them starting. These positive feelings will rub off on them and help get them excited for the big day.

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Tip #8: Make sure and ask them all about their day

Ask what their favourite thing was, and what they didn’t like so much. Ask them what they’re looking forward to tomorrow, and help keep them positive about the new change.

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Tip #9: Let them play

Children learn and develop through play, and letting them work through their new experiences will help them get used to their new school life. Learn more on supporting your child through play on this page and explore our games you can play to get your child ready to start school page.

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There has been a lot of work done to bring in the new guidelines around hygiene. The focus for children starting primary for the first time, as well as for children going back to school, is to support them as they go back, and there may be a staggered start to schoolwork as kids ease into school life. Read our schools FAQ page to find out more.

If you’re worried about how your child is coping with all these changes, you can get helpful tips on our pages on helping children who are worried about going back to school and supporting your child’s mental health page

It’s a good idea to talk to them about what school will be like and what might be different while the outbreak is still going on. Find out more on what they can expect on our schools page.

Last updated: 6 Aug, 2020