Holidays are the time to get Blackpool children ready for first day at school

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Parents are being urged to play their part in helping new-starters get ready for their first day at school in September.

Merle Davies, director of the Centre for Early Child Development in Blackpool, has put together advice ranging from teaching children how to use a knife and fork in readiness for eating school dinners, to practising putting their shoes on.

Merle Davies

Merle Davies

READ MORE>>> Here are 8 tips for parents to help get your child ready for their first day at school

The centre, which has won international recognition for its work, is part of the Blackpool Better Start project whose partners include Blackpool Council and the NSPCC.

Ms Davies said: "Starting school is a major milestone, and can be an anxious time for children and parents.

"To help with the transition, there are things people can practise at home to make sure their child is prepared and ready to start school.

Advice will help children settle into school

Advice will help children settle into school

READ MORE>>> Harvard link for Blackpool child development project

"The summer holidays provide the perfect opportunity for you to help your
child develop the skills that will support them with their first steps into independence.

"You are your child’s first teacher and trying these tips will really help your child feel happier about starting school.

"If your child cannot do these things by the time they start school, don’t worry - just keep practising together.

"If you do need some extra support, talk to your health visitor, GP or your child’s key worker."

She said parents should always praise their children as part of the tasks to prepare them for school.

Last year the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development was recognised by top American university Harvard for its innovative work with young children.

Based at the council's Bickerstaffe House offices, the centre is part of Better Start which funded through a £45m Lottery grant.

It is delivering a 10-year programme focusing on pre-school children living in Blackpool's most deprived neighbourhoods.

Ms Davies led discussions about the project with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of the Royal couple's visit to Blackpool in March this year.