Thursday 29 July 2021

Skills for children starting nursery & school to practice over the Summer.

Children starting nursery and school this September have spent most of their short lives in lockdown. They have been surrounded by adults wearing masks, have had very little experience of being left with people which aren't family members and probably haven't been able to enjoy play dates and many classes with children of their own age.

Kids confidence, social skills and self esteem have suffered over the last 18 months and they might not be as independent as they generally should be by this age.

These are the four skills that parents should aim to work on with their children over the summer.

A box of coloured pencils


The most important skill to practise is independence. Over the summer you could look for ways to support your child and help them work towards greater independence. For example how to put on their own jackets. One teacher faced with thirty children and their coats is no fun. By the time each child is zipped up and wrapped up, playtime is over.

Make things easier for your kids. Use Velcro-style shoe fastenings, trousers with elastic waist bands and tops that pull easily over their head. Let them choose their clothes during the summer and encouraging getting undressed and dressed in preparation for PE lessons will really help. 

If your child has packed lunches let them practice eating out of a lunchbox and putting things in bin. Remind your child what should go in the bin and what should be kept in their lunchbox and brought home. I lost so many spoons in the first few weeks of school due to my girls putting them in the bins. If they are eating school lunches make sure they know how to use a knife and fork.

Encourage your child to begin taking toilet trips without you will build up their confidence. Remind them that hand washing is part of the visit too. Beginning school toilet training now will mean fewer accidents in September.. 

Lead by example showing the child how to do things for themselves, giving clear step by step instructions, which can be repeated as often as necessary. Saying things like “I know you can do this by yourself” will lead your child to say “I can do it.”


Children have spent so much time with us parents over the last 18 months and for young children who know no different. Going to school and being away from family could be a massive thing for them.

Separation needs needs practising and parents could start with having someone come to the house to play with the child. Once the child is comfortable with them the parents could make a short trip to run errands, being sure to tell the child they are leaving, even if the child is sad about this. They will learn that parents always come back. Parents can build up longer periods apart until the child is used to being away from them for the same amount of time as they will be at school.


Practicing activities which encourage concentration can be helpful. During the lockdowns children haven’t been able to attend classes and their home life has often been busy with adults and siblings working from home meaning some children have problems concentrating even for short periods of time.

One way to encourage concentration is for parents to sit with their child and read to them. Encouraging the child to listen without getting distracted, asking them questions to ensure they are listening well and concentrating.

You can train and strengthen a child’s ability to concentrate and focus by playing concentration games that require thinking, planning and the use of memory. Jigsaws, spot the difference, tongue twisters or even just making a game out of just sitting without fidgeting.

If your child is able to count up to 20 and count back from 10, this will give them a really good head start. Use some of their favourite toys or foods to make counting fun. Lay out 10 grapes and get them to eat them one by one, counting as they go. It will give them confidence and help them see learning as fun. Plus it’s a great way to get one of their 5 a day down them!

Social Skills!

We all need to learn social skills and we learn this from a young age. At the playground, parents can help translate for children so they learn to use appropriate words and they can be guided to think of others and if needed to stand up for themselves.

Sharing is a difficult lesson for any child to learn especially if they only start learning it at school but it’s a vital lesson if you want your child to settle in and make friends easily. No one wants to play with the child who refuses to take turns and share. Start to make a point of praising your child for sharing their toys or their last few sweets.

It’s important your child understands what’s expected of them when they arrive at school. They need to know hitting, kicking, biting and hair pulling will not be tolerated. Not only will it bring your child to the attention of the head teacher for all the wrong reasons, but it will make your child unpopular with their classmates. Reputations earned in the early days of school tend to stick and can be hard to shake off.

Take a walk to school if you will be doing the school run by foot. It will give you and them chance to get used to the walk and show them the building while it's empty and not surrounded by people. Point out the gates, playground and where they'll be going in on their first day.

What advice would you give to parents with young children starting nursery or school in September?


  1. Fab advice! It's such a big thing for little ones to start nursery and school. I totally agree with parents making sure that bullying will not be tolerated! Sadly some don't care at all. xx

  2. Fantastic tips to help children x #mmbc