Starting School

Starting school is an exciting time for young children and their parents. It can be a daunting time, too. But with a little preparation and encouragement, most children will settle in easily at school, ready to learn and discover. We share some top tips on starting school and how you can make a child's transition as smooth as possible.

PACEY developed a toolkit as part of a government-funded Starting School Together project to support school readiness. Access the toolkit today. 

What does being "school ready" mean?

  • having strong social skills
  • can cope emotionally with being separated from their parents
  • are relatively independent in their own personal care
  • have a curiosity about the world and a desire to learn.*

* based on previous PACEY research.

(School Ready - Practitioners - Penny Tassoni)

Preparing for school

Parents and practitioners can access a wide range of resources in our 'starting school' toolkit. Including resources for emotional and physical preparation. Take a look at some of our favourite activities below:

Emotional and physical preparation:

  • Starting School Together guide to preparing your child for starting school - Top tips, put together by some of PACEY's most experienced members, to help you prepare your child for starting school
  • Happy talk - Most early years teachers agree that, for a child starting school, being able to talk about what they think and explain how they feel are more important than any academic skills
  • Ready, steady, dress activity sheet - Create a self-portrait of your child all dressed and ready for school. This activity sheet not only builds excitement for wearing school uniform, but also helps strengthen children's fine motor skills, too.


As part of preparing for starting school, practitioners can work with children and parents to plan ahead and keep the transition as seamless and stress-free as possible. Take a look at our resources for practitioners to use within their settings:

  • The school transition timeline is an easy to follow poster which provides ideas and ways to engage with parents throughout the school year, helping prepare for the transition to school.
  • Children's emotional needs - This factsheet provides information about exploring the importance of supporting children’s emotional wellbeing
  • Partnership with parents - This factsheet provides information about working in partnership with parents.

You may also need term planning resources or wrap-around care information. Check out the rest of our resources for childcare professionals and schools.


We have a number of resources for both parents, childcare professionals and schools to support a family and child with starting school.

Find out more about what you can expect to see in a typical Reception classroom, with this video walkthrough.

Top tips for starting school

  1. Don't worry if your child is tearful and clingy for the first few days - it's quite normal. Once you leave, they will most likely be playing quite happily within a few minutes. 
  2. If your child seems exhausted at the end of the day, let them have some quiet time or a small nap when they get home.
  3. If they're starving hungry, a healthy snack and drink can restore those energy levels after a physically and mentally exhausting day at school.
  4. After-school activities can be really beneficial for a child, but make sure they get used to school life before introducing this to them. Keep a few weekends quiet as they might need to recharge, just as we do. 
  5. Talk to your child about their feelings about school, make sure you chat one-to-one about this. Keep their enthusiasm up as they might become reluctant as the reality of going to school everyday sets in.


Childcare professionals and schools can support young children with transitions into school as well:

Find even more resources for emotional and physical support when starting school and how to tackle the practicalities of a new environment. 

The first year

Once the children begin to settle into routines and rhythms of school life, effective communication between school, home and other care settings remains vital. We have lots of resources for parents and practitioners:

Wrap around care

Are you working full time while your child is at school? Not sure how you will be able to work in your child's school times into your work schedule? You could access wrap around care from your local early years practitioners.

Who offers wrap around care?

You can access wrap around care from a number of providers including:

  • Childminders - these qualified early years practitioners can offer early drop offs and late pick ups from the childs school.
  • After school clubs - this may be accessible at your child's school. 
  • Holiday schemes - these may be useful during the holiday period however are not usually available during term time. 

All after-school provision needs to be registered, either as part of the school it operates in, or with Ofsted or CIW (if operating for over two hours a day in Wales).

Access all our resources for supporting the first year of school and take advantage of our full 'Starting School Together' toolkit today!