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Countdown to school or nursery

The week before starting school or nursery can be both an exciting and anxious time for your child. Use this countdown to find quick daily activities to help get them ready for this transition.

Back to school

Preparing your child for school or nursery

Below we’ve laid out seven suggested activities to help your child feel confident and comfortable when starting school or nursery. These activities can be completed on an ongoing basis, but are particularly helpful in the week before their new adventure.

7 days before

Share information about their new school or nursery with your child. Regularly use the teachers or main key persons name. Bring them into role-play, for example, include them as an imaginary guest at a tea party. Or suggest your child draws them a picture to give them on their first day.

6 days before

Talk to your child about managing their self-care independently. For example, going to the toilet and washing their hands, or putting on and taking off coats and shoes themselves.

You could set them a challenge to develop a new skill. The preschool coat flip trick could help!

Practise handwashing in a fun way. Watch the NHS How to Wash Your Hands song.

5 days before

Show your child what their name looks like when it’s written down, you could make a sign together for their bedroom door. Recognising their name will help them find their own coat peg or drawer when starting school. It might help them avoid losing any clothes too (as long as you make sure they're labelled!).

4 days before

Talk about which toys and activities will be available at their new school or nursery. Ask your child to show you three of their favourite things to do or play with. Take some photographs or write some notes about your child's interests to send in to school or nursery when your child starts.

3 days before

Practise the morning routine, including getting up and dressed, and having breakfast “in time for school/nursery”. You could even practice the journey there!

This is a good time to refresh your bedtime routine too, or establish a new one, starting school or nursery is tiring, a consistent bedtime routine will support sleep.

2 days before

Read a story about feelings, such as Ruby's Worry by Tom Percival or The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright.

Regularly talking with your child about how they are feeling will help them to manage their emotions, and support their relationships with others.

1 day before

Share some books about starting school (many of these can be found on YouTube), for example:

  1. Starting School by Janet and Allen Ahlberg
  2. Time to go to Nursery by Penny Tassoni
  3. Never Take a Bear to School by Mark Sperring
  4. Lulu’s First Day at School by Rosalind Beardshaw

Or take a look at our Starting School or Nursery Booklist.

The most important thing is to stay positive and look forward to the exciting adventures ahead!

Take a look at getting ready to start school for more tips, available in 18 languages.