What to Expect During Your Child’s First Term at School

Taking the big step from nursery to primary school can be an exciting yet nervous time for both child and parent!

Here at St Peter’s Prep, our independent primary school and Nursery staff have much experience with children transitioning from pre-school to primary school. Below, we take a look at what you can typically expect when your child starts school and how you can help to ease any anxieties for both you and your child.

Our guide is also beneficial for those who have children who are transitioning between schools or starting a new year group, but we mainly consider younger age groups.

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The First Steps of Independence

Beginning Reception is the earliest stage of primary education, and many of a child’s first steps towards independence will be practised and taught here.

The first and most essential thing they will become familiar with is identifying their name, learning the names of other children and remembering their belongings.

How You Can Help Them

There are some essential and practical aspects to familiarise your child with which will help to ease them into everyday school life. These are things like being responsible for belongings, washing hands and going to the toilet.


No doubt their first day will require them to hang up their coat and bag. If you can help your child to practise and understand these tasks, it will be hugely beneficial on the big day and throughout the term. Not only will it get them familiar with what to expect, but it will also help them to remember what does and doesn’t belong to them.

Practising daily tasks before the first day will not only help them but will also be appreciated by their teacher. You may also want to practise getting changed for P.E., putting on shoes and how to keep clothes in one place.

Toilet and Handwashing

A basic but essential aspect of hygiene, especially during the times of Covid-19, is to ensure your child knows how to wash their hands with soap and how to apply sanitiser.

Familiarising them with how to go to the toilet on their own and the process of handwashing will help raise their confidence as this can be an area where children feel fearful, especially when starting school. Of course, if this is something they are unsure about when school starts, voice any concerns you may have to the teacher as this will help to ease the learning process.

Make sure they know how to wipe correctly, how to pull up pants and remind them to flush the toilet after!

Learning Their Name

Being able to recognise the sound and spelling of their name will also help them to locate their items while at school. It can also help to label anything that belongs to them, so going through this beforehand can be hugely beneficial if possible.

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Some Children May Be More ‘Advanced’ Than Others

Some children may start school with more knowledge and skills than other children in the class. In discovering this, some children can feel upset because they aren’t automatically at the same level.

If your child does feel this way, offering reassurance is essential to encourage them to feel proud and continue to feel enthusiastic about learning. If their disappointment stems from reading, continue to highlight the fun of reading at home with bedtime stories.

Separation Anxiety

In the first few days and weeks of starting school, some children can experience separation anxiety. It is usually associated with infants, but it can also affect younger children who are starting school.

To keep your child calm, explain that you, or another responsible adult, will be collecting them at the end of day and the separation isn’t a permanent arrangement.

If your child does feel a great sense of anxiety at the beginning of their school day, discuss the situation with their teacher who will have lots of experience with Reception children and separation anxiety. They will be able to offer advice, and you can decide on any strategies you may need to implement.

Here at St Peter’s Prep, we are always on hand to help you with any parent and child queries you may have. We support our students and parents throughout their time with us and are firmly dedicated to providing all our pupils with skills and opportunities which will serve them throughout their lives.

If you would like to discover more about the opportunities at St Peter’s Prep, please telephone our Director of Admissions & Marketing, Ms Rachel Elliott, on 01395 280335, for a chat and to book a tour. Alternatively, you can email rachel.elliott@stpetersprepschool.co.uk.

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