When my daughter started school four years ago, it was a massive life change for us – both her, and me – and also for so many other parents who have been at this exciting yet nerve-wracking stage.
Starting school is an important milestone for children – and parents! It marks the transition from being a carefree child dependent on their parents most of the day to becoming a more independent one.
A child’s first day in school is a nerve-wracking experience, with so much to learn and so many new people to meet. But it can also be a difficult time for a parent too with so many thoughts, feelings and worries to process.
So if you have a child starting school this year, I thought it would be useful to share some words of wisdom as someone who has been there and done that.
Know it’s a well oiled machine
Although this all feels new and potentially scary for you and your child it’s important to remember that the teachers have most likely gone through this process loads of times and they know what they are doing. Trust in the process and remember why you choose the school in the first place.
Enjoy it – don’t cry it
It may not be as emotional as you think…..I honestly thought I’d be a wreck but actually felt proud, of course I felt a little sad my boy was growing up but I was excited for his new journey. So my advice embrace it and enjoy their journey with them.
Don’t over egg the pudding
Don’t talk about it too much in the run up. They don’t need to be thinking about it every minute of the day and saying things like ‘you’ll have to sit/eat/behave properly when you get to school’ can be so worrying for them. –
Keep yourself busy
Arrange to do something the first morning like go for coffee with a friend or shopping with someone so that you are doing something and not just sitting about worrying how they are getting on.
Trust your gut
No-one knows your little one as well as you. When my twins started school the shy, quiet one who we had all feared for loved it and went off well. The brassy, confident one used to cry and scream and run away. I told the school that she needed to do a couple of half days a week for the first term to settle and it worked perfectly. Her confidence grew and she was happy to leave me as her trust in the teacher developed.
Put on a brave face
…until you have dropped them off. Then you can have a little cry! Expect not to find much about what they’ve been up to and that they will be very tired from a full school day. Keep weekends relaxed so they can refresh and recharge their batteries.
Ask for more
Don’t be afraid to ask for extra visits, most schools would only be more than happy to have you and your child visit if the transitioning/visiting day wasn’t enough. The first day at school is going to be hectic for the teacher, so if you have any queries or concerns do try and make an appointment prior to the start date.
Allow time for settling in
After experiencing it a couple of years ago – I would say be prepared it can take quite some time for them to settle in. Much longer than you think. It honestly took my daughter about 9 months!!!
Beware the nits!
Get a nitty gritty comb and some Child’s Farm detangler and comb weekly. We do ours on a Sunday night. Much less stressful and time consuming than suddenly realising your family has headlice because you never thought to prevent it!
Be an alarm addict
Time has a tendency for running away with you when your stressing about getting out on time. So I set alarms on my phone for when things need to be finished by. So getting up, then when they should have finished breakfast, finished brushing teeth, finished getting dressed. It’s easier to work backwards when setting them so you know what time you’ll need to get up to realistically fit it all in.
Get kitted & keep it laid back
Try the uniform on beforehand so the child is used to it. If they are happy to take a photo on the first day as a memento, by the front door is always a winner. Leave in plenty of time on the first day so you can take a leisurely stroll (or park easily) and chat and make it an adventure. And smile lots!!
Buy clothes – jumpers & t-shirts a size bigger than they need so that’s it’s easier for them to get dressed & undressed at PE time.
Shoes & bums count!
The most important things for them to learn before school have nothing to do with reading and writing. Help them learn to put on their own shoes and wipe their own bums! –
Getting dressed for success
Make getting dressed into uniform a little easier for them by buying things with elasticated waists and velcro fastenings. This will help with their confidence for moving onto the more tricky things like buttons. Also label everything in sight. –
Let them choose
When it comes to getting their own bags, water bottles etc let them choose. It gets them all excited about taking their new stuff to school.
Do you have a child starting school this year? Have you found the above advice helpful? Or perhaps you are a seasoned school parent with advice to share. Do leave a comment below. You can also read more about how to get your child ready for school here and you can also find advice on starting secondary school here.
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I can’t imagine leaving such a small person on their own for this long, but each to their own etc! Hope it goes well.
Really helpful tips – our eldest starts school this September too. I’ve been in education for my whole career and thought I’d be fine with it … the jitters are starting to kick in though. We’ve had a great experience so far with his school and I’m looking forward to this next stage.
T’s first day of school was a bit tearful. My only advice is, this is definitely just a phase. You and your child will get through this 😉
That is such good advice, especially the clothes being one size bigger for changing… good luck to your little one, I’m sure it’ll all be fine !
This was me this time last year, and I cried the whole first week. You know, everyone is different and if you want to cry, then just cry! I had nothing to worry about though, a year on he is still my baby, just one that can read and write, feed himself, go to the loo himself and can socialise like he’s the life of the party. School is the best thing that happened to Tyler 🙂
I love these pieces of advice, many of which I wish I had considered before my little guy started! I have to say he was very good initially and then a few weeks in he got a bit bored of the novelty and got a bit upset, but on the whole he has loved starting school!
So much dedication in this post. I hope you enjoy a little bit more time to yourself and get after the things that you’ve been too busy for in the past! or just enjoy a cup of coffee to yourself!
Some great advice there and all i can say is take it in your stride, some of mine have been hysterical when leaving on the first day and others have wandered off without a backward glance! lol
There are some really useful tips here on a similar topic I have written on transition documents which a child, or rather their parents should get if they have been attending an early years setting
Great advice. We had such a nightmare with Eva starting last September so I am dreading Megan starting to be honest incase we have a repeat. I’m taking all of these on board!
It must be hard seeing off your child to school but I agree that keeping yourself busy i.e. going for coffee is the best way to cope x
Fab post! I remember how emotional I was when my firstborn started school. I must admit I feel extremely thankful that I get to spend every day with my boys now I home-school them 🙂 x
My daughter starts school in September. She is a September baby and her birthday is on her first full day of school. She is more than ready to start and it was hard for her last year when so many of her friends moved up and she didn’t.
Sebby starts school in September and I am not looking forward to it, purely as he is my last baby. He, on the other hand, cannot wait
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