10 Things Every Kid Should Know How to Do BEFORE They Start School

Have a little one starting school this year? You might want to check they have these key skills down pat BEFORE the big day arrives.

Forget about writing and reading, we’re talking about the basics. Like opening their lunch box. And knowing how to spot their own school bag in a crowd.

It’s normal for parents to freak out when their child starts kindergarten but if they can already do these 10 things then relax, they’ll be off to a flying start.

1. Wipe Their Bottom

If you’re one of those parents who’s still wiping your four or five year-old’s bum then STOP. IT. NOW. Forget about the reams of toilet paper they’ll use and those skid marks on the undies. Let them tackle it on their own because if they need a number two at school you can be sure there won’t be anyone else willing to do the job for them.

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2. Open Their Lunch Box

This seems simple enough, but some new lunch boxes are super tricky to get into and if your child hasn’t had practice doing it themselves then they could end up going hungry. So let them eat from their lunch box in the weeks leading up to starting kindergarten or prep. Not only will they learn how to open it (and all the different food and drink items you’ve put in it), but it will add excitement around the big day and create familiarity for them when in their new environment.

3. Speak Up

It’s important that your child feels confident enough to speak to teachers at school when they feel sick, require help with a task or anything else that might be an issue if they don’t communicate it. Of course not all kids are super chatty or will put their hands up to answer every question and that’s okay. But if they wet their pants because they’re too scared to ask about going to the bathroom, then that’s a problem.

4. Recognise Their Name

Despite more parents encouraging children to read and write before they start school to ‘get a head start,’ it’s not actually vital. What is crucial though is that they can recognise their name written down (and even better if they know how to write it). So be sure to label everything clearly like uniforms, bags and lunch boxes before they start. They should also be able to say their own name clearly and respond to it when spoken to.

5. Display Fine Motor Skills

The biggest advantage your child will have when it comes to learning to write is having nicely developed fine motor skills (and knowing the alphabet song!). So if you haven’t already, get them to practice using scissors to cut out shapes. Use playdough, draw and colour with pencils and crayons. Make Lego creations and anything else that requires them to hold and use objects in their hands and strengthen those finger muscles.

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6. Be Social

It’s natural for some young kids to be quite shy – especially when starting school – and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it’s really helpful for them if they’ve been exposed to other children and different social settings prior to commencing Kindergarten. This way they’re not overwhelmed and will have had first-hand experience with peer interaction, establishing friendships, taking turns, sharing, cooperation, collaboration and more. 

7. Understand Routines

The regimented structure of a school day and its activities can be quite a shock to some children – especially those who have never attended preschool or childcare. So establishing routines (even just at home) is important to help them adjust into the school system – such as eating lunch and snacks at the same time, and sitting still when doing an activity such as drawing. Attending swimming or music classes is also another way to expose them to discipline and routine, and help prepare them for what’s to come.

8. Be Independent

It’s pretty common for Kindergarteners to have separation anxiety when they start school (and often their mums too!). Remember, as long as they have been away from you before for periods of time then this should disappear quickly. Daycare or preschool is a great way to prepare them for the long school day without you,. But even just outings with an Aunt or a sleepover at grandma’s are other ways to get them used to being more independent.

9. Count to 10

Just like with reading and writing, knowing how to do maths sums is not essential for a child starting Kindergarten. But they DO need to know how to count to 10. So if they can’t already, try counting everything you do at home – like walking up steps, each brush of the teeth and how many teddies on the bed. They’ll soon catch on.

10. Tie Their Shoes

Okay, so this last one is not entirely essential (given the large number of shoes available for primary school kids which have Velcro ties instead of laces). However, learning how to tie shoe laces really is a great skill for them to learn early on. It’s excellent for their concentration, independence and fine motor skills. And it’s also a nice way to kick-start their exciting new school adventure in their big boy/girl shoes.

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Good luck mums, remember it’s okay to cry! And if you need some more insight into how life is going to change with a child now at school, then check out these new school mum truths to get your prepared!

And make sure to enter our competition to win ALL the school supplies your kid needs for their big day. Yep, even school shoes!

Avatar of Susan Taylor

Susan is a Sydney based writer and mum of three highly energetic boys who keep her firmly on her toes (and slightly bonkers). When she’s not writing or trying to keep it all together she’s probably reading, watching Netflix or having a sneaky massage.

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