5 things you should do before your child starts in Reception

Mother walking daughter to school. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nursery manager gives first day tips and advice to reception starters - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Speak to your child about their day in school - this is one of the top tips being offered to parents of Reception starters in Ipswich as they prepare for their first day.

For Reception starters, the first day of school can be very daunting and nerve-wracking, but Pamela Smith from Bluebells Nursery in Ipswich shares some words of wisdom.  

Headshot of nursery manager, Pamela Smith

Pamela Smith is nursery manager at Bluebells Nursery in Ipswich - Credit: Rob Sambrook

The first tip that Pamela suggests is to create a social story – a story that you can read to your child and which is completely unique to them and their needs. Some examples of social stories can be found online. Pamela gives a simple example that can be recreated at home. 

“Read a social story to children about what is going to happen. For instance, the story might say ‘on the 6th of September Joe will be going to St Margaret’s school. When he gets to school, he will go into the playground. At 9 in the morning the bell will ring’. The story takes the child step by step though the day,” says Pamela. 

However not all parents will have the time or the facilities to create a social story for their child. But there is an alternative solution which all parents can do – take a walk to the school. Much like the social story, explain what will happen on the school day throughout the journey.  


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“Look at the outside of the building and explain it all to your child. For example, you might like to say, ‘this is the route that we’re going to walk to school. This is the door that you’ll be going into,’” Pamela explains. 

Reading to a nursery class. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Parents can create a 'social story' for their child to read to them before the day - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Back at home parents can re-enact the school day with their children and again describe how the day will go. For example, explain that they will sit down and that their teacher will call their name. But Pamela stresses this must happen several times. 

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“Children are so busy doing other things that it’s not important until that day arrives. Parents really have to prepare children,” she adds. 

So what can parents do on the day? Pamela urges parents to ask their children about their day. Rather than ask closed questions, ask open questions which are more likely to get a response.  

“Parents will need to draw their child out. Ask things like ‘how did you feel about your day at school today? How did you feel at play time?’ It gives them an opportunity to express themselves. 

“If you don’t speak to your child you’re never going to know if something made them feel uneasy. You won’t be able to speak to the teacher about any issues if you don’t ask questions,” she adds.  

Children can eat for free or �1 at various restaurants. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Children will be more likely to open up when engaged in an activity - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The weekend can also be an opportunity for children to open up about their week. Pamela says that for children who may have been overwhelmed in the week, a quiet weekend at home may be best. But for those children who coped a little better, a fun activity can benefit both children and parents.  

“Definitely go out and do something with them. There needs to be a difference between school life and home life where children can relax.  

“When you’re actively engaged with your children, that is when they will speak to you. That’s when parents will find out what really happened in the week,” she adds. 

In Pamela’s final tip, she stresses the importance of parents setting a good example and forming a relationship with their child’s teacher. 

If children are asked to stay at home, it is key to ensure you try to stick to a set routine Pic

Pamela stresses the importance of parents forming a relationship with their child's teacher - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“If you don’t have that relationship with your child’s teacher, you can never make life easier for them,” she says. 

 “If they see you having a good relationship with their teacher, then they in turn will form a good relationship with their teacher as well.” 

Are there any tips you think should be on the list? To have your say email us here and share your advice for other parents. 

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