Is your child starting school soon?
I know how you feel! Last September my youngest started school, and I walked her to the gate, in her too-big dress and her too-shiny shoes, desperately trying not to make it too obvious how much I was trying not to cry.
Predictably, as soon as she’d gone in and we left the playground, I did.
Your child starting school is a super-steep learning curve, for your child and, as it turns out, for you as a parent.
And we learned at lot, even if, unpredictably as it turned out, she would spend a lot less time actually at school than we’d previously thought.
While the new school year might be slightly different this time round, some things about your child starting primary school remain eternally relevant.
Here’s What I Wish I’d Known About My Child Starting School
- Always take a snack to pick-up or they’ll bite your hands off. Even if you live two streets away from school (we live two streets away from school).
- Make sure you take the right snack to pick-up: If you don’t, they will let you know…loudly.
- It ALWAYS rains on the school run. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that even after a warm day where there’s not even a single cloud in the sky, it will be pouring it down come three something something. Every day. Take a coat.
- Your child’s class is always the last one out at pick-up time. Picking up your child after a day at school is Christmas-morning-lovely, but your child’s class will always be the last out. What do they do in there?!
- Don’t even try to ask how their day is. They won’t tell you. Don’t come up with 50 alternative clever questions to find out, either. They won’t tell you. They’re exhausted. And so, after a week of trying to find out how their day was, are you. Your best hope is jigsawing facts together from other people’s children via the school What’s App group. PS – all they ever eat for lunch is jacket potatoes (You can also read my post on Spy kids and the secrets of the school day)
- It takes a village…to decipher the confusingly cryptic school emails. Of which there are many.
- The starting school phased start is long – and a bit of an anticlimax The first day of starting school is such a BIG DEAL…then you pick them up one hour later. Oh. At one point, in the distant future, they will do a full week, and then it will be half term. At this point you’ll need a break from dealing with the complicated logistics of different pick-up times.
- You’ll probably get something wrong. There is so much STUFF when it comes to school, from forms to reading records and books and uniform and forest school, so it’s inevitable you’ll get something wrong. Everyone does, even if it doesn’t look like it. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
- The after-school blues are real. And you’ll know about them. Have snacks, make dinner early, don’t be afraid to turn on the TV. They’re tired. You’re tired. It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
- Everyone cries at some point. You probably will cry on the first drop-off. But everyone will be too busy trying not to cry themselves to notice. Be warned that the firsts are magically emotional too (I’ve never not sobbed in a Christmas play or a class assembly. It’s the sound of children singing).
- The child-free time is amazing. If it’s your youngest child starting school, the time is every bit as wonderful as you’d imagine. But it’s OK not to change the world straight away. And it’s OK to spend time doing nothing, you’ve earned it.
- Starting school might not be as bad as you think, for them or you. Even if they hated starting nursery, they might love school (this happened to us, I was dreading it – read my post on ten things terrifying me about starting school – but it was fine). There are always going to be days where they don’t want to go to school. Just as there are always days you don’t want to work…
- Expect the unexpected. When my youngest started primary school last September, no-one predicted that a third of the school year would be spent homeschooling in the grip of a global pandemic. So what next? Who knows. I dread to think.
- No-one ever knows what day forest school is. And what is it exactly that they do there again?!