Building your child’s confidence for their first day at school

If you are positive and confident about your child’s first day at school, they will feel happier and much less stressed. These practical tips apply to any child with a vision impairment.

If your child has complex needs in addition to their VI, then further repetition (within their capabilities) of these tasks as well as arrangements for toileting, of course should be taken into account.

To be ‘school ready’, your child should:

  • Be as independent as they can in their personal care
  • Have some understanding of social skills
  • Be able to spend some time happily apart from you
  • Have a curiosity and desire to learn

Things to do over the summer

You can help your child to feel more confident by familiarising them with school routines and activities over the summer holidays.

Personal care skills
Helping them to develop their personal care skills will enable them to be relatively independent when they start school. You can:

  • Encourage them to sit and eat at the table and practise using a knife, fork and spoon
  • Ask for a copy of the school menu to familiarise them with it. You could even cook dishes from it to try at home, this is particularly useful if they are not used to sitting down to a cooked meal at lunchtime
  • Help them to practise carrying a tray with food on it
  • Practise the ‘getting ready for school’ routine. Choose the style of uniform which is easiest to pull on and off, e.g. clothes with elastic, zips and Velcro
  • Get up early and get dressed for school before having breakfast
  • Practise the school run, for example they might not be used to a bus journey
  • Label their clothing and bags so they’re easily identifiable – e.g. a label in the top, inside back of clothing and ‘L’ and ‘R’ in their plimsolls for PE
  • Mark or label their belongings so they can be easily identified. Several children may have the same lunchbox, so let your child choose something individual to attach to the handle, e.g. a keyring

It’s a good idea to let the school know in advance of any additional support they may need, for example, assistance with toileting, help at lunch time, including opening their lunchbox and so on.
Social and play skills

Helping your child develop their social skills will ensure they feel more confident for their first day at. You can help them by:

  • Creating a photo book with any photos you took of staff and the school. Talk to your child about where things are, who key members of staff are and who to ask for help
  • Arranging some playdates and taking them along to local playschemes over the summer, so they are used to playing with or alongside others
  • Introduce table top activities like playdough and colouring books or Duplo so they are using to spending a short while on quieter activities
  • Try ‘messy hands’ activities like helping with cooking or baking, painting or arts and crafts
  • Roleplay school activities and routines like story time and tidy up time
  • Improve their listening skills by reading them a story and asking them questions to ensure they understand. Encourage them to answer questions when asked
  • Practise physical skills with them like running, hopping and jumping and sitting cross legged


Things to do the night before

The night before your child’s first day at school, they may be excited or nervous. It is a good idea to:

  • Let them help you prepare their lunchbox if they are taking one
  • Organise a box or table in the hall to keep school things ready to take
  • Layout their uniform ready for the morning
  • Have a relaxing, quiet evening routine

Try to stay relaxed and positive – remember, preparation for their first day should be fun!

RSBC tip - There are books you can read to them about starting school, such as:

  • Topsy & Tim Start School by Jean Adamson
  • Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Osbourne produce a range of sticker books about starting school

Published: June 2018 

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