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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Ready for School

Very soon, your preschooler will be starting full-day kindergarten and their first year of school. Here are a few things that parents can do to make it a great experience.

NOTICE: The "ready for school" examples found in this area of our website were developed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and may not be suitable in the current environment. Please remember the need for physical distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and toys, when planning activities for children. Learn more →


Tips to prepare your child

  • Practice habits and routines that will make it easier for your child to adjust (e.g. getting on shoes and coats, opening lunch containers).
  • Know what kind of information you should share with your child’s school.
  • Introduce your child to school before the first day (e.g. go to the playground and let them play on the school’s equipment).

It’s important to share information about your child with the school. The more a teacher knows about your child, the better they will be able to make school a good experience.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my child is ready to start school?

These are just a few things a typical 3 year old can do:

  • Speak clearly enough to be understood all of the time by family
  • Walk up the stairs using a handrail
  • Play with others comfortably
  • Listen to music or stories for 5-10 minutes with you
Child holding sign

Do your kids walk to school? Follow Tony the Street-Wise Cat and learn how to cross the street safely at traffic lights.
Find more safety tips →


Telephone Support

To speak with a Public Health Nurse from the Middlesex-London Health Unit, call:

  • 519-663-5317
  • Monday - Friday
  • 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

If you want to check your child’s development before they start school, you can go online and register for the free LookSee Checklist by ndds and a 3-year old developmental screen will be sent to you by email. It is suggested that you seek help before your child starts school. 

Another great resource is the full-day kindergarten information from the Ministry of Education.

What’s next?

When a child is starting school in the fall, it’s important to contact the neighbourhood school in January. By calling ahead and/or visiting the school website, you’ll find out how to register your child and what kind of information they need.

Some schools offer a great orientation program for parents and children. For more information, check with your local school board or school.  

What are some new habits and routines to practise before school starts?

Here are some things that you can do to help your child’s development and be better-prepared for school:

  • Take time to visit the school and become familiar with it. Walk the route they would be walking
  • Start routines about a week before school begins e.g. bedtime, get up at the time they would for school, get dressed and have a healthy breakfast
  • Encourage taking turns and sharing
  • Encourage independence. Teach your child how to dress themselves
  • Provide lots of chances to run, skip and play
  • Encourage learning at home. Play ‘I spy’, read together, play counting games
  • Listen to your child and encourage questions, but also teach them the skill of listening
  • Respond to your child’s emotional needs and teach them the skills to cope with challenges
  • Allow opportunities for your child to play with other children and make friends.

Remember, when your child begins school, it’s a time of change for both of you. Your child may be ‘out of sorts’, more tired or hungrier than usual. What can you try?

  • Make sure your child gets some extra rest
  • Offer a small snack when they first get home
  • Perhaps cut back on extra activities to give some them quiet time

What health check-ups do I need to think about?

Before starting school, your child needs to have:

  1. A check-up with your family doctor to make sure your child's immunizations are up to date. You can also get immunizations at the Health Unit's Immunization Clinic. You must provide an up-to-date record of your child’s immunization to the Health Unit. This can be done in a variety of ways. Visit the Health Unit's Immunization Records and Reporting Page to find the easiest way to do this.
  2. A vision test done by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Your child’s Ontario Health Card will cover the cost of a yearly eye exam, so it’s free. You may also visit the Ontario Association of Optometrists or Eye See…Eye Learn for more information about eye doctors or assistance to purchase glasses.
  3. A dental check-up. If paying for dental care would cause financial hardship, your child may qualify for free dental care.  In Middlesex-London, call the Health Unit at 519-663-5317 for details. The Oral Health team will be offering dental screening to all children in junior kindergarten, senior kindergarten, and grade 2 at their schools throughout the year. We encourage you to participate in this program.

What should I share with the school?

These are just a few examples of the type of information that you may want to think about sharing with your child’s school. If you child has:

  • A hard time being away from you
  • Lost someone important to them not long ago
  • Seen any kind of specialist or therapist

If you’re not sure if something is important, call the school and arrange a time to have a confidential discussion.

Date of creation: February 25, 2013
Last modified on: April 22, 2021