Did you find out what school your child has been given for September today? I hope they got where you wanted. If they didn't, that's okay too. It probably feels like someone up there is punishing you for something but the reality is that they will flourish and shine wherever they go.
No matter where your child is going, this is an exciting and scary moment for you both. It doesn't matter whether they are your first born or your tenth, you will always feel that tug at your heart not wanting them to go (whilst under your breath at least 100 times you have probably wished to be left alone in peace!)
You shouldn't feel like though right? They have probably been going to nursery or pre school for the last year so what's different? Well...so much. They will be gone 9-3 5 days a week. They will no longer fully depend on you. You will see them age about 10 years within the space of a few months as the gain their independence and do things you can't imagine. You have every right to feel whatever emotions you are right now. If you need to cry about it, do it. If you need to give them a tighter hug when they go to bed for the next few months, do it.
Bet you are wondering why you should listen to me but I have been on both sides. I have been the parent letting them go on that first day of school and I have been the teacher the other side welcoming them in and telling you that they will be okay.
So here are my 5 top tips from both sides of the coins for them starting school.
Let them go in
From a parents point of view...I'm starting with a big one here. Imagine that first day of school. You are worried, nervous and excited for them all in one go. Your child will pick up on this and we definitely want them to feel the excitement rather than the other. You get to the gate and there you have to leave them. It can be really hard. You want to give them a huge hug and not let go, hanging on for every second they will let you. BUT this will make the process so much harder for you both. What you need to do is put on a brave face and a huge smile. Give them a quick hug and a kiss and tell them you will be right here when they come out a little later (just make sure you are!) Let them walk in alone. There will always be those children who are unsure and cling on. There will also be those who run in and don't look back. Whichever you have, be positive and let them go. Just take some tissues for the car journey home.
They will find their peg together with the teacher, they will find somewhere nice to sit and they will have copious amounts of toys and new things to explore.
From a teachers point of view...they will be fine. Those who cry at the start are distracted within a few minutes and are fine. They enjoy their first day. They are all made a fuss of and looked after by the staff. They will have something to eat and drink. They will know where the toilet is and they will have help to put on their coat.
And on the chance that they really find it hard, we will phone you. Trust in us educators. We know what we are doing and we will look after your little one from the moment they enter our door.
2. Order their clothes over the summer
From a parents point of view...we all know children grown fairly rapidly but make sure you get their clothes in the summer. If you have a winter born baby, get them the next size up. It may look a little big to start but your bank balance will appreciate it at Christmas time. Don't leave it too late to get everything ordered and make sure you shop around. All the supermarkets have great deals on their clothes and they sell them all year round.
From a teachers point of view...label everything! And I mean everything! You don't need fancy labels, just make sure there name is on there somewhere. It will save a lot of hassle at pick ups as well as down the line when there will inevitably be an overflowing lost property box. Even the drinks bottle and especially the book bag.
3. Don't buy lace up shoes.
From a parents point of view...this may seem obvious. They are unlikely to be able to tie their laces at this point so why bother. It will also make getting ready in the morning much easier. There is nothing worse than realising you are going to be late on the school run in the pouring rain mid December and then remembering you have got to tie their bloody shoe laces. Save yourself the stress and get velcro.
From a teachers point of view...we don't have time to tie everyone's shoes 10 times a day either. It will help them become more independent when getting ready to go home or for PE. Of course learning to tie laces is an important life skill, but they will be learning a lot in their first year. They could do without that one too.
4. Teach them how to dress and undress themselves
From a parents point of view...depending on the school, they may or may not need a PE kit (check this with them before you buy it even if it says to get it in the information pack. We spent £30 on PE kit to be told they don't need it in Reception!)
Regardless of PE kit, teach them to get dressed independently over the summer. How to put things on the right way round, where the label should be. If you have another younger child to sort, this will be a lifesaver in the mornings that at least one of them can do it themselves.
Don't forget the coat! Teaching them to put it on and do up the zip is tricky but practise practise practise!
From a teachers point of view...this is an important life skill. Especially for them to get changed before and after a PE lesson. We will of course help them if they get stuck but we will also encourage them to try on their own. Plus it is a perfect way to teach them their left from their right early on.
5. Put a sticker in their shoes
From a parents point of view...this was the best trick I did. Get a sticker of something they love; a dinosaur, unicorn etc and cut it in half vertically. Put their school shoes together and stick one half in each of the shoes so when they are together they make the picture. Now when they are putting their shoes on, instead of constantly asking if they are the right way round, they can tell by seeing if the picture looks right. You can thank me later.
Oh and don't forget that doorstep photo on their first day. It is a social media must!
Like what you have read? Come on over and join my Facebook group where I will be sharing lots of activities and tips from now until the run up to starting school. You will find it here