Monday, 24 August 2015

So your child is starting school?

It seems like yesterday my son started school but amazingly nearly a year has passed.  My son attends a huge but fantastic primary school of nearly 600 children but the change and growth in him has been amazing.

I thought I'd share some top tips with nervous parents approaching this for the first time.


If you've not already got some school uniform sorted, get this done now.  You will have to label and probably adjust some (trousers especially).

Check out the school's policy and buy everything you can get away with in a generic form, e.g. is it obligatory to have school crest on polo shirts?  You might have got an idea from the settling in days you had earlier in the year on how well the uniform is adopted.  In general where we live, people get the logo jumpers and the rest is from supermarket own brands.  They're cheaper and often better quality.

Also get far too many polo shirts or shirts whatever your school's policy is.  They will get stained with paint etc.

Do label everything

Don't just use permanent pen as this often bleeds so it is unreadable or fades.  Use a special laundry pen and ideally use labels as well.  You can get iron on versions if you're not keen on sewing.  I know so many parents who lost expensive school jumpers because they didn't do this.

Check out the menu

If your child has a food allergy, like mine has, they are often able to accommodate this but it's also worth checking from a nutritional point of view.  I have to admit I've gone with school lunches because they are free but I'm not sure how they can manage to claim they are nutritionally balanced.

Arrange out of hours care if you need to

Most of us work; I certainly do and so need before and / or after school provision.  If this isn't already sorted, work it out now.  Ideally find somewhere which also do school holiday clubs as well.  Don't assume you have to go with the wraparound care on the school site either.  I know of some kids who hated to stay on after school finished on the school site because they couldn't work out why their friends were going.  Some nurseries and out of hours care providers will pick up and drop off children at school.

Try to be there to drop off your child on the first day

Come on.  What else is more important however busy your life is?

Be prepared for tears but...

Don't assume it will be your child who will cry.  If they run off without a backwards glance that doesn't mean they love you any less, it means they're happy and confident.  Likewise if they are tearful, don't worry they will get used to it in no time.  For us, school was fine and he adjusted well to the morning and afternoon clubs but needed me to stay with him for a little while each day until he adjusted.  It was only 10 minutes of my day and time I could easily spare to just give him a hug until he felt confident enough to go and play.

But on the first day you will go back to your car or walk home and cry and you won't be the only one.

Meet your teacher and be supportive of him / her

Discipline starts early but the original meaning of discipline is learning.  Don't be the parent who argues with the teacher.  Kids learn this and lose respect.  Your child may be an angel 80% of the time but children all misbehave sometimes and it's important that when the child does misbehave they see their parents agreeing with their teacher, otherwise what lesson do they learn?  If you have any concerns, pick them up with the teacher in private or ask him or her to call you later.

Do read with your child every day

However busy you are and trust me, I know, reading with your child is the best thing you can do.  Not only does it help them at school but it's a great way to bond with your child about their school day.  Education is not the job of the school, it is the job of the parent, the school is just helping you not the other way round.

But you can only do what you can

My son's school are not always the most thoughtful about working parents.  They would often have meetings at 3pm on weekdays I couldn't attend.  Try your best, judge which ones are the ones you cannot miss and talk to the teacher about the others.  You won't be the only one who can't make it, even if it feels like you are compared with the parent "cliques" who hang around the school gates (trust me, you're probably better off out of it.)

You can only do your best and your child will see that and appreciate it.


  1. N only started last week, and I so agree with your last point in particular. It seems schools haven't realised that these days the majority of parents (both of them) work. Our school does the same - 6 assemblies a year, your kids will want you to be at, school church services at end of terms, parent meetings straight after school. Where they imagine we get our holiday allowance from I have no idea. Next year I'll have to buy back days so I can use them for these things.

    1. It's funny I put the last section in, in the second week there is a 3:15pm meeting. Yes I would love to be there but I'm also heading to a major retailer's head office. All the whinging there is about single mothers, single, working parents, erm, work... It would be far easier for me if they chose a 7:30 or 8am meeting any day or at least arranged afternoon meetings for a Friday.


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