Recently, I’ve been around parents whose children haven’t started school on a full-time basis yet. Parenthood involves and includes many things, but based on the parents I know (outside of teaching), it isn’t full of time to plan and reflect! So when do parents get the time to think about what their child needs to be school-ready?

The idea about kids being school-ready got me thinking. I thought about the experienced teachers I know, who are also parents, and I asked them what parents should do to get their kids ready for Reception.

Why did it matter whether they were parents or not? In my mind, if they’ve had their own children, they would understand both sides of the coin i.e. teaching and parenthood. I’ve often heard people say policymakers are so distant from the real world, they can’t see the impact that their proposals will or won’t have! With this in mind, I asked teachers who were parents and those who weren’t. I wanted to see if they came up with different things. Guess what? It didn’t make a difference!

Here’s what they said:


  • being able to hold a knife and fork
  • to be able to feed themselves


  • being toilet trained
  • to go to the toilet independently
  • to flush a toilet

Getting dressed:-

  • to be able to get themselves dressed and undressed
  • to be able to zip or button up their coat
  • to put their coat on without help

Reading and writing:-

  • when they’re ready, they need to know letter sounds, rather than, the names of each letter
  • to recognise their name
  • working towards writing their name as it should be e.g. Heena and not HEENA
  • to enjoy being read to


  • getting children interested in numbers by looking out for them on cars, on door signs, counting the steps as they go up the stairs etc.
  • to be able to count 10 objects accurately


  • If possible, create opportunities for them to interact with a variety of other children, so that they’re used to the social side of things when they join a class
  • encourage them to try new things independently
  • reinforce the need for them to tell an adult if they have any concerns or are upset

Other skills:-

  • to know basic colours
  • to be able to take turns when playing a game
  • to use please and thank you appropriately
  • to talk about the world
  • to visit museums
  • to go to the park
  • to be able to ask questions
  • to be able to use a pencil
  • to begin to use scissors
  • to be able to tidy up after themselves
  • some children are known by different names. This may be due to how the name is pronounced or because they have a Western name which is different to their birth name. This may cause confusion and frustration when they start school.

The more independent the child is, the quicker they’ll settle in and the more prepared they’ll be to learn and absorb what they’re taught.

What do you think about this list? Is it asking too much? Is it reasonable? Should they be able to do more? Should teachers cover all of the above when children start school? Get in touch and let me know…

Related content

Parents guide to school readiness
Government is acting to get children ready for school
EYFS Statutory Framework
For parents: What to expect, when – for parents
Parents’ Guide to the EYFS


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