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Ready for school tips 3 to 5 years

Tips for parents and carers to talk together, play together and have fun together for pre-schoolers aged 3 to 5 years old.

To be ready for school your child needs to:

  • be able to listen to instructions
  • understand new words and sentences
  • talk to others about what is needed or sharing ideas with grown-ups and other children

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Mealtimes

Name and talk about the actions when making and eating meals, for example, when cooking you might use these actions: peel, skin, wash, scrub, cut, slice, dice, mash, squash, pinch, stab, prick, layer, create, build, make, wipe, clean, push, look, pass, share. Can you think of using 5 action words for 'eating' or 'making' or 'cleaning'?

Going to or from nursery and school

When travelling by car or bus, play a game of 'rhyme strings'. Choose something you can see, for example 'tree' and together choose as many words as you can imagine (real words or silly words) to rhyme with it. Can you make a string of 6, 8 or 10 rhyming words?

News from home can sometimes be hard for your child to remember. Try using a diary system between home and nursery or school. Write your news or add picture so your child can easily talk about it with his or her class.

Out and about

When food shopping together, play a game of 'say the syllables'. Name each item you put in the trolley by clapping and saying each syllable, for example, 'corn flakes', 'semi-skimmed milk'.

Name new things and demonstrate what it can do or where it can be found. This will help your child learn new words.

Play time

Play 'I spy' by describing the item, for example, 'I see something that is tall, it's made of metal, it has a bulb at the top' and then talk about the sound it starts with.

Join in and make up little stories together about the play.

Bath time

Talk about the order things happen in, for example:

  • washing hands - first get hands wet, next use the soap, and then wash off the soap, and finally dry your hands
  • washing hair - first wet the hair, next rub in the shampoo, and then rinse out the shampoo, finally do it all again
  • float or sink games - first find the bath toys, next catch all the ones that float, and then look for all the ones that sank, finally put the toys away

Bedtime

Snuggled up before bed is a good time of day for a 'catch up chat'. You like conversations that are in a comfortable place and not filled with questions. Give the same chance to your child. Comment on what they say rather than quiz them with lots of questions, for example, 'that sounds fun', 'you made a big mess painting that picture', 'wow, I loved that story'.

Praise

Praise your child's efforts, for example, 'I like the way you tried to finish your dinner', 'thank you for helping', 'nice drawing and using the pencil', 'I love how carefully you have been building that track'.

For more ideas talk to your health visitor, children's centre, nursery or school about Derbyshire ECaT: Every Child a Talker.

UK physical activity guidelines factsheets for children are available from GOV.UK. You can get healthy resources information for parents from Early Years family health initiative.