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Blackpool parents urged to get kids ready for school start

Parents are being urged to play their part in helping new-starters get ready for their first day at school in September.

Merle Davies, director of the Centre for Early Child Development in Blackpool, has put together advice ranging from teaching children how to use a knife and fork in readiness for eating school dinners, to practising putting their shoes on.

The centre, which has won international recognition for its work, is part of the Blackpool Better Start project whose partners include Blackpool Council and the NSPCC.

Ms Davies said: “Starting school is a major milestone, and can be an anxious time for children and parents.

“To help with the transition, there are things people can practise at home to make sure their child is prepared and ready to start school.

“The summer holidays provide the perfect opportunity for you to help your
child develop the skills that will support them with their first steps into independence.

“You are your child’s first teacher and trying these tips will really help your child feel happier about starting school.

“If your child cannot do these things by the time they start school, don’t worry – just keep practising together.

“If you do need some extra support, talk to your health visitor, GP or your
child’s key worker.”

She said parents should always praise their children as part of the tasks to prepare them for school.

Last year the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development was recognised by top American university Harvard for its innovative  work with young children.

Based at the council’s Bickerstaffe House offices, the centre is part of Better Start which funded through a £45m Lottery grant.

It is delivering a 10-year programme focusing on pre-school children living in Blackpool’s most deprived neighbourhoods.

Ms Davies led discussions about the project with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of the Royal couple’s visit to Blackpool in March this year.

Merle’s tips for school starters

 Practice getting dressed. This includes, uniform, PE kit, and shoes and socks. Practice buttons and zips and give lots of positive praise for trying. Give extra attention to putting shoes on he right feet. Over the summer holidays let your child practise putting on their school uniform and make sure everything is labelled with their name.

 Encourage your child to talk, listen, share and follow instructions. Once they start school, children will need to sit still and listen for longer periods of time than they are used to. Parents can help their child by sitting down and sharing a book every day, and talking about the pictures.

 It’s important that children learn to, and be confident enough, to ask for help. Try to encourage your child to have a go at things and tell them that it’s ok to ask for help. You can even practise using the full sentence: “Please can you help me”.

 School is a time where children will have to try different foods and tools. School dinners are often one of the things parents worry about most, and it’s a good time to introduce new foods in the run up to school.  You can also show your child how to use a knife and fork and praise them for good table manners.

 School might be the first time that your child is expected to use the toilet on their own, so now is a great time to talk to them about this. Practise washing and drying hands, as well as wiping themselves after using the toilet. Tell your child it’s ok to ask to use the toilet at school, and make sure they wear clothes they can easily take down themselves.

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