With only a couple of weeks left of the summer holidays, it will soon be time to start thinking about the kids heading back to school or, for some, starting school for the very first time.

For those of us with primary school-aged children, the shock to the system that September brings can fill us with dread – early starts and after-school meltdowns anyone? – but there are things we can do to help smooth the transition.

So what’s the best way to prepare our children for starting back at school? We’ve spoken to some primary school teachers from Pashley Down Infant School in Eastbourne to get their top tips…

Mix it up

Let’s be clear – getting your children school ready doesn’t mean sitting them down with lines to learn or times tables to recite. In fact, quite the opposite approach is advised.

Rosanna Dyer, a Year Two teacher says: “Keeping children’s minds active over the holidays ensures children don’t find the first few weeks back at school overwhelming. Keeping their minds active doesn’t have to necessarily be sitting down and completing homework. It could be a whole host of activities such as engaging days out or regular counting practise and reading, which can be little and often. This ensures that they feel confident walking into a new class in September.”

Exploring the world around you

Activities that are engaging don’t have to cost a lot. Annalie Brown, a Year 1 teacher, agrees: “The most important activities are things such as walks, sight-seeing, and really using the opportunities around you to build on communication and language.

“Cooking is another fantastic one and exploring different cultures. Whether it’s cooking different foods or visiting significant places, these free family activities give them a wider range of experiences that they can build on in school.”

Need some inspiration? Check out our ideas for free sunny and rainy day activities you can do with the kids.

There’s also time to check out what’s going on in August for a few more events and days out for this final week or so before September looms.

Emotional preparation

Sometimes we can forget how big a change a new school year can be for little ones. Annalie says: “It’s vital to prepare your child for school by building their resilience and providing your child with the set of skills and vocabulary to be able to express their emotions. We often consider preparing our children academically for school but not emotionally.”

Rosanna agrees. “Talking the children through the daily routine and how this will change at school can really help. As teachers we use daily visual timetables to talk children through the day. In a busy family environment sometimes it’s easy to forget that talking children through their new school life step by step really can reduce anxiety.”

Both teachers also recommend some extra steps for those starting school for the first time. “Children starting Early Years in September should have a set of vocabulary to ask for help and express their emotions, so encouraging that over the summer holidays is a big help. It’s also useful to address simple skills with your child such as putting their coat and shoes on. Being able to take on small responsibilities such as tidying up, and even things such as holding a knife and fork, are small things you can practise with your child to make them feel more confident and independent come September.”

Helpful tech

There’s a wealth of apps you can download to help your child learn in an engaging and educational way online.
If you are stuck inside on a rainy day, why not download a few apps that will both entertain your child and help them learn! Here are a few ideas from Year Two teacher Mr MacInnes for each year, with different apps aimed at different year groups:


• Storytime from CBeebies (free)
• Endless Numbers (numbers 1-5 are free + IAP*)
• Pocket Phonics (basic edition – £6.99)
• Puppet Pals (free)
• Phonic Street (free)
• Bee Bot (free)
• Puppet Workshop – Creativity App for Kids (£2.99)
• Daisy Dinosaur (free)
• Crazy Cursive

Year 1:

• Mr Thorne Does Phonics (£1.99)
• Mr Thorne’s Phonics Safari (£1.99)
• Endless wordplay (free + IAP)
• Squeebles addition and subtraction (£2.99)
• Pet Bingo (maths – free – highly recommended!)
• Teach Your Monster to Read (£4.99 app, completely free on desktop!)
• Crazy Cursive

Year 2:

• Scratch Jr (coding – free)
• Tynker (coding – free + IAP)
• Wonderbox (free)
• Squeebles Times Tables (£3.99)
• Squeebles Flip Multiplication (£2.99)
• Teach Your Monster to Read (£4.99 app, completely free on desktop!)
• Crazy Cursive
*IAP (In App Purchases)

Looking for more resources? Check out the BBC Bitesize collection on tips for starting primary school. They have lots of videos to watch to introduce your child to school life, plus games, teacher tips and much more.
For those of you with older children, they also have a whole host of resources to support your child starting secondary school.

Have you got any more top tips for getting your children prepped for school? Do you know any useful apps that help them engage and learn? Feel free to pop your ideas in the comments below – we’d love to hear them!