Preparing Kids for a UK Education: 5 Things Parents Need to Know

The first day at school can be more daunting for parents than their kids. You wonder if your little darling will make friends easily, and manage not to get lost in the corridor, and you hope that they will learn all they need to while they are there. To prepare them for a UK education, here are five things that parents need to know.

Reception Year

The first year at a UK school is called ‘Reception.’ This may not make sense to everyone, but they call it this rather than Year 1 because Reception is a continuation of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This means that it is a continuation of the things they have learned in pre-school rather than the beginning of infant learning (KS1) which they will commence in Year 1. This may be a little confusing, but you will soon get used to it.

Compulsory Education

Contrary to popular belief, compulsory education does not necessarily start in September of your child’s reception year; it depends on their birthday. In the UK, kids may start school in the September before they turn five because this works best with the child’s school year and means that they will have an easier time fitting in with their peers. However, it actually starts the term after the child turns five. For example, if your child has a December birthday, compulsory education starts in January and for a June baby, compulsory education will not start until the beginning of Year 1. This means that if you really feel your child is not ready for school, you can delay starting them.

Don’t Stress

The thought of sending your baby off to school may be stressing you out but children pick up on moods and emotions quickly. If you get stressed over the first day of school, then it is likely that they will be too, and this won’t help anyone. Talk to them about the first few days and what they should expect so that the experience is not totally alien to them but try to make it sound like fun rather than something to be scared of.

Social Skills

One of the most important things you can do to help your child settle into school is teach them some social skills. Get to know some of the other mums and kids in the area by attending playgroups or sending them to nursery before they start ‘big school.’ This will teach them important social skills such as how to share, how to play nicely and how to interact with teaching staff. This will make their transition to school a lot easier, especially if they make friends with kids who will go to the same school as them as they won’t feel so alone on their first days.


Practice makes perfect so don’t be alarmed if your child says they have spent a lot of time going over and over the same things once they start school. Lots of practice means important information is more likely to stay in their head for longer. Young children learn through repetition so they may sing the alphabet song or songs that relate to numbers. They can also learn a lot through play so don’t think they are not doing any work if they come home and tell you that they have been playing with Lego all day or didn’t leave the sandpit. These are important lessons too.

These are some of the important things that parents need to know so that they can help kids prepare for a UK education. Good luck.