BookTrust, the UK's largest children's reading charity, has come up with a great suggestion to help parents get their little ones school-ready.
Basic skills such as going to the toilet, being able to brush their teeth and speaking correctly are all tasks that children should have mastered before starting school.
But, according to a recent survey of headteachers, 83% said that four-year-olds are not adequately prepared for their first day and a similar proportion believe the issue has worsened over the past five years.
Another study, I highlighted in a previous blog, found 70% of 700 education staff working with children between the ages of three and seven reported more children are now starting school without being toilet trained compared to five years ago.
And Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted, told the Pre-School Learning Alliance earlier this summer: "We now have a situation where, aged four, some children have less than a third of the English vocabulary of their peers.
"These children arrive at school without the words they need to communicate properly. Just imagine the disadvantage they face, right from the start."
She also described being toilet trained as 'a simple, but necessary, expectation' for four-year-olds although added that she didn't think children should start reception 'as perfectly well-turned-out mini adults, who always go to the toilet unaided and never have accidents'.
Mrs Spielman also said children starting their first year of school should be able to sit still and listen, understand the words 'no' and 'stop', and be able to put on their own shoes and coat.
In the light of this, BookTrust is urging parents to start reading basic life skills stories to little ones now, ahead of their life-changing move to a primary school in September.
Having these skills before they start means they won’t fall behind, hold classmates back and will also help ease the burden on teachers.
The charity has compiled a booklist to encourage parents and carers to start talking to toddlers and pre-schoolers (aged two to four) about starting school and the skills they will need.
Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust says: “We know there are an increasing number of demands placed on parents and that they’re busy all of the time, but using books and stories as an opportunity to start discussions with young ones to prepare them for school can go a long way to help get them ready to start in the new term."
Here are some of the titles recommended by BookTrust:
I Want My Potty, by Tony Ross
The Little Princess hates nappies and thinks there must be something better. A classic picture book which will be appreciated by children learning to love their potty.
Zeki Gets a Checkup, by Anna McQuinn
Zeki is a big boy now – he loves hiding toys, playing ball, singing and dancing. Today, he’s going for a check-up at the doctors’ with Daddy and his toy Mister Seahorse.
My Big Shouting Day, by Rebecca Patterson
Bella is having a Big Shouting Day: from morning until bedtime, she shouts and complains about everything from biscuits to baths. But eventually, Bella says 'sorry'.
How to Brush Your Teeth With Snappy Croc, by Jane Clarke
The little girl in this delightful board book takes Snappy Croc through each teeth-cleaning step: from squeezing out the toothpaste to brushing round and round, and showing off her sparkling smile at the end.