What is ‘school readiness?’

We hear that term a lot – is your child school-ready? As a parent of a child starting school in September, I’m suddenly looking at him in a new way, judging what he can and can’t do and questioning if he’s actually ready for school. Can he put his shoes on? Can he organise himself? Will he be OK without me for six hours a day? So I started looking into what schools expect children to be able to do by Reception and what I can do to help support him.

School readiness

What do the government think is school-ready?


Children should be able to be separated from their main carer and be used to short times away from their parent.


Children should be able to listen, take turns and sit without disrupting others as well as following instructions.


Having an interest and focus on learning is an important part of school readiness, whether that be taking part in a number of physical, musical or literacy activities.


Being able to communicate with others and their teachers. Having an age-appropriate amount of language skills to participate in activities as well as express their needs, feelings and thoughts.

Building relationships

To be able to form friendships, share and play with others as well as understand consequences if they do something they shouldn’t.


Having a certain level of independence when at school such as being able to go to the toilet, dress and undress independently and eat without support.

Literacy and numbers

To be able to recognise some numbers and letters and to do simple counting.

School readiness

How can parents help?

Increase expectations

Especially around self-care tasks such as dressing, toileting, eating, and getting ready to leave the house. Provide only verbal rather than physical ‘help’ to complete the tasks where possible.

Social skills

Arrange suitable ‘play dates’ for social interaction practice with children that your child might be less familiar with.


Expose your little one to a range of books to prepare them for literacy. It helps improve vocabulary too.

Talk about school

Start preparing the child for school by talking about expectations at school, appropriate behaviour and regularly engaging in ‘sit down’ activities.

Help build a schedule

Once you have your child’s timetable you could use visuals (such as picture schedules) or a written schedule to help your child understand the routine of their day both at home and at school.

Out and About

Prepare the child for school by going to places such as the library, the zoo etc…. to widen your child’s understanding of the world. Visits to the school playground and classroom before school start may also be helpful to familiarise your child with the new setting.

School readiness



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