Help your child to be happy at school: photos

Starting school can be a daunting experience for your child. But there's plenty you can do to help him approach school with a positive attitude.

Here are some simple steps you can take to develop your child's self-confidence.
  • Smiley mum with young child at playground
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    Having new experiences

    Help your child to be confident with new people and places by enjoying a range of activities together. If he experiences different things when you're there to support him, he'll feel happier doing new things when you're not around.

    Here are some ideas for getting out and about:

    • visit a playground you haven't been to before
    • go to a library’s story session
    • have a picnic in the park

    Ask your local children's centre or library for family-friendly events in the area.
  • Dad waving goodbye to preschooler at school
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    Avoiding separation anxiety

    Dropping your child off at school can be tough if she doesn't want to say goodbye.

    Most reception classes hold welcome sessions before term starts so that you and your child can meet her teacher together. This will help her to know that her school is safe and that the adults can be trusted.

    Allow plenty of time each morning to drop your child off. If you're stressed about being late, she may pick up on it and get anxious too.

    When you leave, reassure her that she'll be well cared for. Let her know when you'll be back in a way she'll understand, such as "after story-time".
  • Preschooler boy sitting on bench pointing
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    Making choices

    Give your child plenty of opportunities to make choices for himself, such as:

    • what to wear
    • what to have as a snack
    • what cup to drink his water from
    • what toy to play with

    Offer him two options at first, so he isn't overwhelmed by choices. For example, would he prefer an apple or a banana? You can gradually increase his options as he grows in confidence.
  • Preschooler girl buttoning shirt
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    Becoming independent

    Independence is an important part of your child's development. She'll gain confidence from being able to do things for herself too. Let your child have a go at putting her pyjamas on at bedtime. Then move on to more difficult clothes. Don't worry if she doesn't master zips, shoe laces and other tricky fastenings just yet.

    Ensure she can feed herself by providing small cutlery, plates and cups. You could even ask her to pour her own drink from a small bottle or jug, or to clear up her plate after dinner.

    Give your child lots of praise when she does something independently. She'll love the attention, and will want to try more things by herself.
  • Preschooler boy flushing toilet
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    Toilet training

    It will boost your child's confidence if he can use the toilet by himself when he starts school.

    Make sure he knows what to say and who to tell if he needs to go. Teach him how to wipe when he's done, and how to wash his hands without supervision. He'll love the responsibility.

    Of course, it's normal for some children to have the occasional accident every now and then. Keep encouraging your child to use the toilet if this happens, and speak to your health visitor for advice.
  • Prechooler girl with hat playing on climbing frame
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    Getting fresh air and exercise

    Encourage your child to spend time being active and playing outside. Fresh air and light are known to have a positive effect on young, developing brains.

    Have a regular time in the day where your child can run, jump, skip, hop, roll, climb and slide. She'll probably sleep better having worn herself out, which will give you the chance to have a proper rest too!
  • Father reading book to pre-schooler boy in bed
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    Winding down

    Sticking to a regular bedtime allows your child to stay refreshed and ready to learn new things.

    It's a good idea to switch off the television and put away any tablets or electronic games in the hour before bedtime. Too much stimulation before bed can make it hard to fall asleep, so your child will need some time to wind down.

    Sleep is vital for healthy development and for feeling able to cope with what the day may bring. Ideally, your child should get 10 hours to 12 hours sleep each night.

    Ready for SchoolFor more support and advice to give your child a happy start to Reception, visit - a new school-readiness app for you and your child, launching in autumn 2015.

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