FamilyThe Final Countdown to Term Time : How parents...

The Final Countdown to Term Time : How parents can prepare kids for staring school


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Educational toy company LeapFrog partners with parenting expert and Channel Mum to offer support and advice to mark launch of LeapStart and prepare kids for school success.

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The summer holidays are upon us, but for thousands of parents across the UK it’s the start of the countdown to their child’s first day at school. Following the recent State of Education Report from The Key, which revealed that more than half of new pupils are below the expected level of school-readiness and lack social skills, multi award-winning educational toy brand LeapFrog is supporting parents to help make sure their kids are ready for the classroom.

Working in partnership with parenting expert Liat Hughes Joshi and YouTube’s friendliest – and most honest – community for mums, Channel Mum, LeapFrog is providing parents with practical tips and activities that they can practice with their kids over summer. The brand has recently launched its latest educational toy, LeapStart, an interactive learning system which aligns with the school curriculum and teaches children key school and life skills.

To help prepare parents emotionally for that all-important first day, LeapFrog has teamed up with four vloggers from Channel Mum, two of whom have children starting school this September. In a dedicated series of the videos, the mums discuss how they are feeling ahead of the big first day at school and share their tips on how to help kids get school ready.

The videos can be viewed here:

Good mental health is based on our ability to think, plan and act in ways that are effective and appropriate for our environment. Sometimes we have difficulties in some areas but we have abilities in other areas that help compensate for our limitations. For example if someone has flight anxiety but finds a way to lead a full life without having to fly, their mental health can be good. Someone else with ADHD who is unable to cope in life socially or occupationally may suffer from less good mental health and this can affect them at school. Lack of exercise, lack of sleep or unhealthy diet affect our brain and mental health just as much as they affect the body, because in the end it is one system. If your child has a physical problem, such as a physical disability or something that is also debilitating such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, then they have probably already had a test for carpal tunnel. They should be encouraged to do gentle exercise to assist any symptoms and keep them physically active which should help them with getting into a school routine. Good mental health cannot relate only to happiness or mental well-being or even to the absence of mental illness. It is a complex that can be addressed in each of its aspects and combined to understand in which areas of mental health we need to put effort and improve to help our kids. This way, children can have a great return to school.

Liat Hughes Joshi comments: “A child’s first day at school is such an emotional time for the whole family. It’s important to remember that in preparing for this day, it’s not about competitive parenting, but more about giving children the skills to make sure they can be confident and happy and ease into this new stage in their lives”. Her top tips for parents who have children starting school this year are:

  1. 1. DO talk to them about the idea of school – tell them about your own positive school experiences and find out any specific concerns they have about not having mum or dad around.
  2. 2. DO attend settling-in days to help them to feel more relaxed – they’ll be able to meet the teacher and experience the classroom environment. Point out things they will be able to enjoy next time they come to school, such as the playground.
  3. 3. DO help them find a familiar face if your child isn’t starting school with friends from their existing nursery or preschool.
  4. 4. DO arrange a meet up – ask among local friends to see who has a child starting the same school and arrange meet ups if you can, like a picnic or a visit to the local playground.
  5. 5. DO teach them ‘self care’ – like undressing and dressing themselves for PE – practice this over the summer with clothing that has zips and buttons.
  6. 6. DO teach them how to eat independently with cutlery, get them chopping and slicing their food as much as possible.
  7. 7. DO toilet train them (again!) so they know how and when they can ask to use the toilet, how to wipe up and wash their hands properly.
  8. 8. DO practice counting up to 10 in your daily activities, as this forms the core of maths learning in the first year of school and start looking at basic sums, using practical items around the house.
  9. 9. DO introduce books and stories so your little one can see how letters correspond to sounds and words to sentences. Sharing stories and pointing out specific sounds is a gentle way to introduce this.
  10. 10. DO teach them to recognise their name so they can find their coat peg or spot the name label on their jumper in a pile of others.
  11. 11. DO see using apps as a positive to help – we all worry about too much screen time but good quality, well designed apps can be an engaging way to learn.
  12. 12. DO encourage basic etiquette, namely taking turns and listening when others speak.
  13. 13. DO practice sitting still!  Practice for half an hour at first and introduce sedentary activities, for example, completing a jigsaw puzzle, to help with this.
  14. 14. DO role play to help your child to feel comfortable approaching and talking to their teachers and to not be intimidated.
  15. 15. DO take time to reassure them of any anxieties, even if you’re feeling worried yourself!

Available in two models – one for preschool children aged 2-4 and one for primary school children aged 5-7 – LeapStart works with a library of 16 replayable activity books across four learning levels, that provide productive, safe and fun off-screen play. The books, each sold separately, have been designed to work with both LeapStart platforms, together teaching 50+ key skills; from the alphabet and 123’s to space science, basic coding and educational problem solving.

LeapStart system (RRP £34.99) as well as the 16 LeapStart Activity books (RRP £9.99 each, ages 2-7) are now available at selected UK retailers. For more information, visit:

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.

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