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A-Z of starting school

A-Z of starting school

A is for... After School Clubs

From football to finger painting, you'll find there are plenty of clubs offering extra-curricular activities. Ask around for one to suit you.

B is for... Baseline assessment

When your child starts school he or she will be tested for basic literacy and numeracy. This will enable the teacher to assess their progress and also address any special areas of need.

C is for... Conkers and other crazes

From Pok矇mon簧 to skipping, crazes are all the rage. Some schools discourage games like conkers on safety grounds, so make sure you're not unintentionally encouraging your child to break the rules.

D is for... Dyslexia and other special needs

If diagnosed early, dyslexia need not be the debilitating condition it once was. If you think your child might be sufferer, contact the British Dyslexia Association (Tel: 0118 966 8271). Discuss any other special needs with the head-teacher.

E is for... Emergencies

Have your school's details to hand and inform them of any changes at your end, especially mobiles.

F is for... Foundation stage

This is the first part of the national curriculum and focuses on the needs of children aged 3 to 5. The emphasis is on social and personal development, communication, maths as well as physical and creative development.

G is for... Getting a place

Some schools are better than others, and competition can be stiff. If you are moving house, take catchment areas into consideration. Apply early and get involved, possibly as a governor or on some other voluntary basis.

H is for... Homework

Until the age of five, homework is limited to a little reading. In years one and two (ages 6 to 7) the workload increases to around an hour a week, then up to half an hour a day by age 11.

I is for... Inspections and inspectors

All schools are assessed. To find out more, visit Early Childhood Development Agency

J is for... Jolly learning

Jolly phonics is a popular method of introducing the sounds of letters. See Jolly Learning Singapore.

K is for... Kitchen

Avoid junk food! Enquire about healthy eating programmes.

L is for... Lice

Horrid, but a reality. Watch for itching and wet comb your child's hair after washing every now and then.

M is for... Mental notes

When visiting a school for the first time, pay attention. How do teachers and carers speak to the children? Do they get down to their level? How do they deal with energetic children? Do the staff look interested and engaged? What ranges of activities are on offer?

N is for... National Curriculum

By the time your child leaves school, you'll practically be able to sit exams on the three core subjects yourself.

O is for... Outside play area

What is on offer at playtime? A messy piece of scrubland or a well-kept playground? If you're not happy, make a fuss: your child has a right to a safe, pleasant outdoor environment.

P is for... Parent/teacher evenings

A vital point of contact between you and your child's teachers: use them to ask questions and voice concerns.

Q is for... Questions to ask

Arrive at a new school with a list of pre-prepared questions - that way you won't leave with the wrong answers.

R is for... Reading

Reading with your children is the best contribution you can make to your child's literacy; at school, reading schemes will build on that good work.

S is for... Standard Attainment Tests

Your child will sit two lots of tests at primary level. ?They will be tested on reading, writing, spelling and maths. Science is marked according to course work. Stage two happens around age 11, and is a much more formal assessment in three core subjects: Maths, English and Science.

T is for... School trips

Not normally compulsory, but kids love them. Check that the school has sufficient numbers of staff supervising.

U is for... Uniform

A few days before school starts get your child to wear in their new shoes and try on their entire uniform to make sure it all fits. Don? forget to take those all important uniform pictures on the first day to share with friends and family.

V is for... Visit your school

Plan to see around the school during the working day, not just on open days to see how things operate.

W is for... Websites

You might find the following of use:?Ministry of Education

X is for... Xmas

Of course you'll want your child in the nativity play. Aim low to ensure success: they always need shepherds!

Y is for... Year, as in school

Make a note of the dates for booking your weeks away.

Z is for... Zzzzz

Try to make sure everyone gets to bed early the night before. You probably won't sleep a wink, but you'll make up for it when the kids are at school!