Preparing Children For Transition To ‘Big’ School

10 ideas to help children prepare for transition into school.


Take a look at these ten top tips from our early years experts to help prepare children who are due to go into early years - or ‘big school’ as they might see it – this August or September.

• Help children become more confident and independent in taking themselves to the toilet, wiping themselves after using the toilet, dressing after using the toilet and washing their hands.

• Introduce juice cartons for snacks sometimes– this helps develop skills in removing straw from cellophane, and piercing hole with the straw. Have some ‘lunch box’ lunches - children can help choose their lunch, prepare it and learn to open lunch boxes and manage packets, straws and lids etc.

• Introduce some activities where children need to undress and dress. Help them understand the need to keep their clothes in one place and even fold them into a pile. 

• Use a sequence dressing puzzle or create one of your own with pictures or photographs.

• Shop with your child for school supplies. Individual schools may have some specific requirements, but you can do some general shopping before school starts. 

• Continue to offer lots of literacy, maths and science activities and projects. Offer quiet reading opportunities with ready access to easy reader books. The Twister and Zig–Zag series from Evans are particularly good.

• Try a “dry run” of what will be the new morning routine – packing lunches, gathering homework and lunch money, walking to the bus stop, etc. 

• Outdoor play with no props or resources. Help children to learn some games they could play in the playground – remember school playgrounds will not have all the accessories that nurseries supply and, with Covid, many resources may still be restricted.

• Begin to flexibly introduce some school practices such as “lining up” and “raising hands”. Explain and discuss that these are practices teachers may expect in their new school. Be flexible on implementing these practices.

• Create fun activities using a whistle to indicate end of play.

Some books to support children starting school (your local library should have most of these titles). Also available from

Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

I Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child

My First Day at School – Evans

Lucy and Tom Go to School (Picture Puffin S.) by Shirley Hughes 

Billy and the Big New School (Orchard Picturebooks) by Laurence Anholt, Catherine Anholt 

Going to School (Usborne First Experiences S.) by A. Civardi

Starting School - "Althea"

Why am I Starting School? [AUDIOBOOK] Narrator Diane L Jordan

Journey to School – Evans

Do I Have to Go to School?: A First Look at Starting School by Pat Thomas

Sam’s First Day by David Mills (Mantralingua Publications) Available in other languages and on CD

Tom and Sofia Start School by Henriette Barkow (Dual language) Available from Letterbox library