How to help your child prepare for Primary 1 at school – Sue Hay, Head of St George’s Junior School

16 Mar 2018

St George's girls independent day and boarding school Edinburgh Scotland

Primary 1 – St George’s Edinburgh

As the head of the Junior School at St George’s, I enjoy offering advice and support to help girls and their parents settle quickly into Primary 1.

Starting school is an exciting time but can be daunting too. There are many ways you can support and extend your child’s skills and readiness before she starts. With good preparation and plenty of encouragement, most children settle easily and start school with a smile.

In our nursery, we focus on children learning through play, outdoor learning and laying a solid foundation in pre-literacy, writing, and numeracy skills.

As we move towards Primary 1 this focus extends to learning new skills in personal organisation and independence, encouraging appropriate classroom behaviour, fostering positive social and emotional skills, and learning techniques to improve concentration, attention, and communication.

At St George’s, from Primary 1 onwards, we specialise in girls’ education. Everything here is designed with girls’ needs and developmental stages in minds.  For us, girls are our only priority when we are planning our learning and teaching.

As you would expect, our aim is ensuring your daughter finds her voice and learns independence of thought.  We are committed to helping your daughter to believe in herself by developing her self-esteem and confidence. Surrounded by positive female role models, your daughter will discover that gender is no barrier to success.

Before starting school your child does not need to be able to read, write or do sums. Children start school with a wide range of abilities and our teachers are skilled at helping our children progress at their own level.

What’s most important in your preparations is that you have fun with your child by sharing stories, singing songs, playing games and talking about anything and everything. These are the building blocks for developing curiosity and a desire to learn. Be outdoors as much as possible, let them explore, ask questions and discover new things.

At St George’s we focus carefully on a smooth transition into Primary 1 but, whichever school you choose for your daughter, arrange to visit the school with her and ask to be shown the places that are really important to your child as part of her settling-in process. This will include finding the cloakrooms, the classroom, where the children eat lunch, and where they will wait for you at the end of the day.

Try and meet her classroom teacher and encourage your child to say hello and share a few things about herself that the teacher might like to know. Let your child share a special toy or talk about her favourite activities. Ask questions about the school day and what sorts of things your child will be doing during the settling-in period.

Check List: How Ready is your Child for Primary 1 and Starting School?

Take a look at our check list below. You may see some areas where you can support and extend your child’s skills in the coming few months leading up to starting school.

Independence Skills

Manage in the toilet and wash hands

Undress and dress

Take care of belongings

Hang up her coat

Change shoes

Pack and unpack a school bag


Follow instructions and listen carefully

Social Skills

Play well with other children

Take turns in play/game situations

Share with others

Show empathy and care to friends

Emotional Skills

Cope with new situations

Deal with changes in routine

Separate happily from parent/carer

Manage emotions when things go wrong

Attention and Concentration Skills

Listen to and follow a responsible adult’s instruction

Persevere in an activity lasting 5 -10 minutes

Manage to sit and remain in one place to finish a meal, listen to a story, etc

Communication Skills

Speak clearly and be understood by others

To get the insider’s view, click on the play button to watch our Settling in to Primary 1 video narrated by this year’s Primary 1 (5 minutes)

Sue Hay, Head of St George’s Junior School


St George’s Edinburgh