Early problems

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'Don't like it any more.' Some children seem to settle very easily and then, a fortnight later, decide they don't like it. Once you've established there's no underlying reason, be firm and gently explain that they have to go. If tiredness is a real issue, discuss options with the teacher, who may suggest your child goes home earlier for a few weeks until she settles down again.

'I've got no one to play with.'

Take comments like these with a pinch of salt, as the school or nursery will let you know if there's a problem.

'I'm scared to ask to go to the toilet.'

Drawing attention to herself is difficult for a shy child. Have a word with her teacher, who will encourage her to put her hand up. If she's anxious about what will happen if she does have an accident, reassure her that it won't be a problem. Plenty of children come home from infant school in borrowed clothes, and the teachers certainly don't get cross.

Learning through play

'Forget sitting down and reciting "the cat sat on the mat",' says primary school headteacher Tom Thomson. 'These days, reception classrooms are bright, active places where children can develop their talents, and learn to work with others. Physical activity is encouraged, even for number work, which is great fun.

The school day is designed to give children experience of the world, by playing games, using construction toys and observing and touching. Questions are positively encouraged, as is speaking and listening. Our aim is to build up a child's confidence, self-esteem and independence.'

5 ways to prepare your child

1. Find out who's going to be in your child's class and arrange play dates to help your little one's social skills.
2. Encourage your child to do lots of drawing, and colouring, and read with her to prepare her for lessons.
3. Talk to your child about what to expect at school or nursery, and help her see it as an exciting adventure.
4. Take a photo of her in her new school uniform to make her feel special.
5. Send her off to her classroom with a huge hug and kiss. You may well discover that you need it more than she does!

More help and advice


Continued below...

- It's not just the kids who get upset. Read one mum's story...
- Ways to prepare your little one for school
- Expert advice: Be positive and so will your children

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