The first day at school: Getting your kid school ready!

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School ready back to school

First day at school: Getting your kid school ready!

Are you wondering what key skills your child needs to get them school ready for kindergarten, preschool, nursery or daycare?

Read on for some tips from certified speech & language pathologist Saffira @onlinespeechie, and early childhood teacher, Jennifer @little_play_ideas:

Focus on self-help and independence to get your child school ready:

Instead of focusing on the academic side of things (which is why they have a dedicated teacher!), focus on skills that will enable your child to participate functionally & independently. The teacher is there to provide the academic learning, so don’t get caught up with the letters, numbers, shapes, reading or writing. Your child will have ample time to learn about these at school (kindergarten, preschool, primary school) or daycare! Here are some self-help skills to focus on at home;

  • Recognising their written name.
  • Toileting in places other than home and understanding their own privacy (e.g. ensuring door is closed).
  • Washing & drying hands properly.
  • Asking for help.
  • Packing their bag.
  • Opening and closing lunchbox and containers.
  • Asking for help in various situations (e.g. turning toy on, opening something, object not working, getting something out of reach).
  • Making sure their drink bottle is closed before packing it away.
  • Packing away an activity before starting another one
  • Knowing when it feels hot and cold & putting on/taking off jumpers and coats.

Remember, you’re aiming for independence!

School readiness skills for kindergarten preschool daycare nursery

First, provide your child with verbal and physical assistance. Then gradually reduce the support, until they can do it independently.


A great tip from occupational therapists is to implement backward chaining. This means to assist with all the steps (physically or verbally), but leave them the last step for them to do on their own. Then gradually fade each supported step until they can do all steps by themselves.

For example, if you break down the ‘washing hands’ tasks, it involves about 6 steps.

  • When your child is learning, assist them (physically, gestures and/or verbally) all the way up to step 6 (dry with a paper towel).
  • Then let them do step 7 (put the paper towel in the bin).
  • Then next time, assist up to step 5 (turning the tap off), then they do step 6 and 7 on their own.
  • Continue the gradual fading until they can do all steps on their own.

You can do the same with dressing (start with pants halfway over their bottom).

Books books books! The Million-word gap

Expose your child to books every day, even if it’s for 1-3 minutes.

Here is a crazy fact. Kids that are exposed to 5 books a day, learn 1.4 million more words than kids that don’t. This statistic is based on a research article dated in 2019 from the ‘Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. Here’s what they found:

School ready: The million-word gap!!

  • Here’s how many words kids would hear by the time they’re 5 years old:
  • Never read to: 4,662 words
  • Exposed to 1-2 books per week → 63,570 words
  • Exposed to 3-5 books per week→ 169,520 words
  • Exposed to one book a day → 296,660 words
  • Exposed to five books a day → 1,483,300 words.

Life does happen, so this DOES NOT mean you have to stick to the highest numbers.

The study is merely highlighting the importance of exposing your child to books. At the end of the day, one book is better than none. So that’s all you need to take from this.

Here’s a link to the article – click here

How to share books with your child?

Also, see my recent videos and posts here:

Practice answering Questions

Help your child be an active learner within the classroom. Start asking them who/what/where/when/why questions. Check out my reels that demonstrate how to use forced choices to help your child answer questions!

School ready help your child answer questions
Click here to watch the video!

Focus on location words

Words such as under, next to, in and on.

These words are very important because they will help your child follow instructions that are given to them at school. Activities to teach these words are:

  • Felt-board scenes
  • Doll house play
  • Hide n’ seek. (i.e. put the panda under the tree, daddy is in the bath, found teddy under the chair!).

Teach concepts before & after

As mentioned above, these words are super handy for following instructions at school! Try to give your child instructions at home, & help them understand/break it down for them. E.g. “before you put your shoes on, find your socks”.

Need more help to get your child ready for kindegarten, preschool, nursery or daycare?

Here are some useful articles and links here:

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