For both of my two oldest children, I felt very emotional when they started school. It was worst for Logan, my oldest, but the very first day of handing them over to the unknown, the huge milestone in their lives, knowing that the youngest part of their lives is over, wondering if they’re going to be ok, if they’re going to cope with all the things you usually help them with, will they make friends, will they be ok eating lunch, what happens if they cry? It’s huge.
Maybe children go to school too young in this country, but in a couple of weeks, a lot of children across England and Wales will be getting ready to go on their very first day. So what tips would I give if you are in this position?
- Get your child confidence in going to the toilet, wiping themselves and having the confidence to ask to go when they need to
- Help them to eat independently, practise carrying their own plate to and from the table
- Make sure they can take their own shoes on and off and dress and undress themselves confidentally
- Label EVERYTHING, seriously everything, they lose so much stuff it’s unreal. My son’s winter coat went missing once for two weeks
- If your child is feeling anxious, I really love this idea of drawing a little heart on yours and their hands, so if they need a hug they can just look at the heart and know that you’re thinking of them
- In the same vein, after lockdown last year when my oldest two were apprehensive about going back to school I got them each this badge which they have pinned in a pocket in their school bags
- Get everything ready the night before, school mornings can be manic. Make packed lunches, pack school bags and have their shoes in a place you can find them
- Buy clothes for everyday. Particularly in reception, kids get really messy. My olders kids have less uniform now that they’re older, but for reception I got 5 trousers, 5 polo shirts and 3 jumpers and I really don’t regret it, it made life so much easier
- Check their bags everyday, otherwise you’ll miss an important announcement or invite
- Get ready for lots of emails, school send so many
- At drop off try to hold in your emotions, it’s going to be big and scary for them. They need you to be their cheerleader and be excited and proud of them. You can cry (and it’s perfectly acceptable to) when you walk out of those school gates
- Remember they’ll be ok. Teachers have been welcoming children into reception for many years and they are well trained and capable of looking after your little one. They are also really approachable if you have any concerns
- Be prepared, there is very little chance they will be able to tell you about their day afterwards. You might get snippets, you may also find more comes out at a later time. It’s hard as you just want to know everything and they often just close down
- After school meltdowns more appropriately known as restraint collapse are a thing. They’ve held it together all day long and unfortunately you’re their safe place and it all comes out at you. Here’s a good article on in that might help
As a Mum of three, I can tell you it will be ok. My youngest is yet to go to school and I know I will feel all the emotions next year but while my oldest two children have had bumps in the road, they are happy and thriving at school. And by year one, you’ll be happy to see them head off in September and also be rather glad of a bit of space and me time.
PS…. don’t forget the pictures!