Having set routines really helps children to manage their day and is a really important part of getting children ready for school.

Getting ready for school

Their first day at school is a big moment in a child’s life, making sure they are ready is important, and there are lots of things you can do to help them prepare for their first day.

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1. Talk to your child about school in a positive way, even if your own experience of school wasn’t a good one.

2. Have a practice run in the weeks leading up to the big day, particularly if routines are difficult for you.

3. Set the alarm and find out how long it’s going to take to get up, washed, dressed, breakfasted and get to school.

4. Let your child put on their uniform before the big day, show them how to fold it and keep everything together. In a class of 30 children it’s easy for clothes to go missing or get mixed up. This can be made into a fun game.

5. Make sure your child can use knives, forks and spoons as all reception class children are now entitled to free school meals.

6. Your child needs to know what’s expected of them and so making sure they’re able to take themselves to the toilet and wash their hands will be useful skills.

7. When you have finished any activity, encourage your child to tidy up and put things away as they will be expected to do this at school.

8. Go to the school’s induction session before the new term starts.

Morning routines

Mornings can be hectic with children and adults needing to have breakfast, get dressed, find coats and bags, and leave the house. Making sure you have a routine that children understand will help make things easier and less stressful for you all.

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1. Share books about morning routines or school routine with your child as a way to introduce the topic.  Use the books with your child to talk about your own household morning routine.

2. Use large sheets of paper and markers to plan out a routine with your child.

3. Organise drawers and clothes so your child can pick out underwear and choose clothes the night before.

4. Make a personal ‘getting ready for school’ book. You can personalise this to your family’s own morning routine.

5. Prepare a ‘morning role play box’ or ‘getting ready for school role play box’ containing thims that are used by your family. For example: clothes; toothbrush and flannel; toy food (that the child usually has for breakfast, e.g. cereal packet, pictures of food or playdough to make the food); bowl, cup, plate, spoon; coat, schoolbag, lunch box. The morning routine can then be used as a play activity.

6. Sing ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’ using the routine actions. “Here we go round the mulberry bush... This is the way we brush our teeth; put on our shoes; pick up our bag” etc.

7. Make a progress/reward chart.

Mealtime routines - 1

Having a routine can really help mealtimes be easier to manage. Here are some tips that you might find useful.

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1. Give your children a five minute warning before mealtimes so they can finish what they’re doing.

2. Allow children to have some choice but limit it to two or three options. For example, rather than “What do you want in your sandwich?” ask, “Do you want cheese or ham?” In the supermarket, “Would you like Cornflakes or Shreddies?”

3. Give small portions as young children can find a plate piled with food overwhelming and offputting.

4. Use praise and rewards, e.g. “If you eat your carrots you can have some yogurt.” Or “If you eat up you can have a sticker to put on your chart”.

5. Give attention to your child at mealtimes by asking questions and listening to answers. Your child is more likely to sit still and eat if the mealtime is sociable and fun with you.


Mealtime routine - 2

Meals can be one of the most stressful times of the day, especially when your children are young and learning about different foods.

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1. Use the ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ story to talk about familiar and unfamiliar foods, e.g. Swiss cheese and salami. This could be a useful way to encourage your child to try new foods.

Find some thick string or wool to make a caterpillar and thread through the holes in the book. Use sellotape to seal the end of the string making it easier to thread. Make a caterpillar or butterfly out of paper or card.


2. Play mealtimes with dolls and soft toys. Lay the table together, counting out enough plates, spoons etc. for the different people/dolls/soft toys. ‘Make meals’ together using playdough

3. Make a progress / reward chart. It is important to plan a routine that suits your family. This way they will ‘own’ the routine and it will be more likely to work.

4. Involve children in preparing meals. Making sandwiches is often a favourite and is simple to do. Ask your child what ingredients they need and what they need to do first, next...etc. Biscuit cutters can be used to make different shapes; slices of cucumber and tomato can be used for eyes and mouth.

5. Write a shopping list with your child. Let children help with shopping.


Bedtime routine

Bedtimes can be a huge challenge for every family, but creating a routine is really important to help make sure your children get the rest they need at the end of each day. These tips will give you some ideas on how to get your children ready for bed.

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1. Share books with your child as a way to introduce the topic of bedtime.

2. Use cushions and a throw or scarf to make a pretend bed for a favourite soft toy or doll. Ask your child what ‘teddy’ needs before he goes to bed.
They might say:-
- Have quiet time
- Have a drink
- Have a story
- Have a bath

You can role play these things with the teddy or doll.

You can always gently prompt your child if they can't think what to say.

3. Make a personal bedtime story book. You can use the format from a book that you read, e.g. ‘Good night Moon’ and make it personal to your child’s own bedroom. You could read this at bedtime with your child as part of the nightly bedtime routine.

4. Make a progress / reward chart. It is important to plan a routine that suits your family. In this way you will all ‘own’ your routine and success is more likely. Making a reward chart could follow on from the ‘teddy’ activity by talking with your child about what they need to do before going to bed. The routine progress / reward chart could be made by you (by hand or computer) or together with your child by sticking cut out pictures from a magazine onto their personal routine progress chart.