Getting ready for school
Last edited: 22/12/2022
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This leaflet has lots of useful information to help you and your child prepare for school.
Kent School Health
Who we are
Our team supports the health and wellbeing of children, young people and their families from the time they start school to age 19, helping children to get the best start in life. The teams are led by qualified nurses with specialist training in public health.
Before your child starts school
Children have different abilities when they start school and their teacher will help them progress at their own rate. They don’t need to be able to read, write or do sums before they start.
Here’s a list of fun things you can do with your child to help them feel confident, curious and ready to learn.
- Help them recognise their own name to help them recognise their belongings. Start with the first few letters and build to their full name.
- Sit at a table to eat or play games with friends.
- Read books together about starting school.
- Arrange play dates with other children.
- Practise using a knife and fork. You can practise having a pack lunch at home.
- Encourage them to use the toilet and wash their hands without any help, Eric has information and support on toilet training.
- Encourage them to dress and undress themselves. Buy easy fastening shoes with Velcro straps to begin with.
- Chat about your time at school and show your school photos.
- Practise morning routines, including getting dressed and eating breakfast.
- Encourage your child to ask questions and to follow instructions.
Some children may be feeling anxious about starting school.
- Be calm: Your child will take their lead from you and be reassured if you are.
- Be supportive: Younger children may struggle with separation anxiety and may become tearful or clingy. Reassure them that you will miss them too. It might be helpful to draw a heart on their wrist and one on yours too. When they find they are missing you, they can press the heart and know that you will feel it and press yours too.
- Be curious: Listen and try not to dismiss or minimise any of their fears, but validate how they are feeling – ‘I know you’re a bit worried.’
- Be positive: Together think of things they are looking forward to, such as being with their friends, meeting their new teacher or learning new things.
- If you’ve tried these tips, but your child is still feeling anxious, our School Health Team is here to support you.
Download the Born to Move app for more tips, activities and resources to support you and your child on their next big adventure. Ring your local Health Visiting Team for more support and advice (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm)
'Understanding Your Child' courses are here to help you develop as a parent as your family grows. These free online courses are available in 15-20 minute chunks, perfect for busy parents and carers. To access your free course go to inourplace.co.uk and register for a free account with the access code ‘Invicta’.
Apply for free school meals
Apply for free school meals if you’re eligible. Although all children are entitled to a free lunch in key stage one (reception, year one and two), around 20 per cent of children are entitled to be registered for ‘free school meals.’ If eligible, the school can also access up to £8,310 in additional funding.
Your child will be learning and playing with more children when they start and could be at risk of catching preventable diseases if they have missed any of their childhood immunisations. Check your child’s Red Book or ring your GP if you are unsure if they’ve missed any vaccinations.
Your child will be offered the flu vaccine between September and December at school. This is completely painless - just a gentle squirt up the nose. You’ll be contacted by your child’s school with details about how to give consent online.
Being active and healthy eating
Change 4 Life has lots of advice, recipes and tips on how to eat well, move more and live longer, including games, information and ideas to be a healthier family.
The Eatwell guide shows how much of what we eat should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
Healthy teeth and gums are important. Our Community Dental Team have put together a useful guide on starting school with a smile with some tips for healthy packed lunches too.
This hydration guide can help you choose a balance of drinks for children aged five to 11-years-old.
Children who regularly have a good night’s sleep have improved attention, learning, memory and overall mental and physical health.
Having a routine every night will promote good sleep:
- a warm bath
- keeping lights dim encourages your child’s body to produce melatonin –the sleep hormone.
- Read a story together or put on some relaxing music.
Avoid screens before bedtime
Limit screen time at two hours a day. Screens affect how easily children go to sleep so stop using them an hour before bed.
Your child’s bedroom
- Your child’s bedroom should be dark, quiet and tidy.
- It should be well ventilated at a temperature of 16 to 20C.
- Keep bedrooms a screen-free zone.
See The Sleep Council for more tips and advice for good sleep at any age.
Can we help?
Starting school is a big step and our service is here to help.
We provide advice, support and help on a variety of health issues and will refer to specialist services, when needed. These include:
- daytime and night time wetting and soiling
- behaviour issues
- healthy eating and lifestyle
- emotional health and wellbeing
- puberty and growing up
- complex health needs.
Getting in touch with one of our teams is easy:
0800 0113 474
www.pacey.org.uk/parents/toolkit and www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/collections/starting-primary-school/1 have lots of fun activities to help give children the confidence and skills to successfully start school and enjoy their first year or take a look below.
You can also download the www.kentcht.nhs.uk/service/kent-baby/born-to-move/ for more tips, activities and resources to support you and your child on their next big adventure. Find your local Health Visiting Team’s contact details at www.kentcht.nhs.uk/service/kent-baby/health-visiting-service - you can ring or email for more support and advice (Monday to Friday, 9am to5pm)
General health and wellbeing
Visit www.kentcht.nhs.uk/school-health for information for parents and carers of children from school age up to 19, including how to contact your local School Health Team if you have any questions, or are worried about yourself or your child’s health and wellbeing on 0800 0113 474 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the online referral form at www.kentcht.nhs.uk/forms/school-health-service-referral-form.
Information for parents and carers of pre-school children, including how to contact your local Health Visiting Team if you have any questions, or are worried about yourself or your child’s health and wellbeing is available at www.kentcht.nhs.uk/service/kent-baby/
Check out www.kentsport.org/get-active if your family is interested in becoming more active and healthier. The site includes tips and information on getting more active, making lifestyle changes that will benefit the whole family.
www.nhs.uk/change4life also has lots of advice, recipes and tips on how to eat well, move more and live longer, including games, information and ideas to be a healthier family.
www.oneyoukent.org.uk provides free NHS services that can help you stay fit, healthy and well. If you’re not sure where to start, or just want some advice, start here. No lectures, just friendly advice and support to make the changes that are important to you.
The sleepcouncil.org.uk has tips and advice for good sleep at any age.
www.eric.org.uk has information and support on childhood bedwetting, daytime wetting, constipation and soiling.
You can find lots of general health information at www.nhs.uk.
www.youngminds.org.uk is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.
Emotional health for parents and carers
kentresiliencehub.org.uk/parent-carers has lots of information and details of local support if you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing, or looking for information on how to help your child during this time.
youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents also provides information, confidential expert advice and a helpline, giving support and advice to parents and carers who are worried about the emotional wellbeing or behaviour of a young person in their care.
www.kmhealthandcare.uk/your-health/mental-health-and-wellbeing is a helpful resource with lots of tips to protect your mental health and to support the wellbeing of our friends and family.
www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/moodzone-mental-wellbeing-audio-guides/ has a series of wellbeing audio guides you can listen to in your own time, to help you boost your mood or reduce anxiety.
If you have any concerns, you don’t need to wait for us to visit your child’s school, you can contact us at any time. You can also access our services if your child is not attending school.
Phone 0300 123 5205 and select option two.
Parents/carers can complete an online referral form. You will receive a confirmation email that your referral has been submitted. If you don't get an email within a few minutes, check your junk folder in case it has gone there or call 0300 123 5205 and select option two to speak to a member of the team.
Young people aged 11 to 19 can text ChatHealth to have direct access to a nurse (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) on 07520 618850. This service is confidential and anonymous.
You can find lots of helpful information to support your child's development, and keep them healthy and safe in our Kent Child and Kent Teen sections of the Kent Family website. Check out young people's websites Kent Youth Health and Moodspark.
Do you have feedback about our health services?
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust
Trinity House, 110-120 Upper Pemberton