It’s that time of year when settling-in sessions are taking place to prepare children starting in Reception this September. I can’t believe it was a whole year ago that this was us, it’s gone by so very quickly. I got very emotional in the run-up to her starting school, though Boo was more than ready for it and I wrote this post the day before she started last year. I’d have appreciated someone telling me what it would be like, what to expect, and to reassure me it was going to be OK. And so, this one’s for you if you’re in this boat this year…
I know how you feel. Your child is about to start school and you’re not quite sure how this has come round so quickly. You could swear it was only a few months ago that they were born, but somehow you made it through the sleepless nights, weaning, tantrums, potty training, navigated the world of playgroups and toddler classes and here you are, about to be a school mum.
They might well be ready. You can see it in their excited little face. But you’re not. You’re not ready to let go of their hand just yet. You’re not ready to say goodbye to the freedom that preschoolers bring with them – holidays whenever you feel like it, impromptu picnics on sunny days, lazy mornings just because you can. But they have to go, the time is right for them.
Here’s what you can expect in this first year:
You’ll send them into school all pristine, clean and tidy. They’ll come back out dirty, socks rolled down, shoes scuffed, but oh-so-happy. They seem to use marker pen that will not wash out to practise their phonics with, so be ready for that. Oh, and they’ll get it on their legs and arms, too. That will wash off. Eventually.
There’s no great rush to chat to the other parents, but realise that these are the people that you’ll see every day, twice a day in many cases, for the next few years of your life. If you’re a SAHP these may well be the only adult conversations you have some days. Cultivate and enjoy these friendships.
These are also the people you’ll see every few weekends or so at yet another classmate’s party. There will be a lot of these in their first year at school. Bulk buy cards, gifts and wrapping paper so that you’re always ready, and try to be the parent who remembers to RSVP!
You’ll most likely spend a fair bit of time at the school. There will be workshops on areas such as maths, phonics, reading, writing, and then if yours is anything like Boo’s school, plenty more on top. It’s great to get this insight into their learning, and fun to see them in their classrooms. Enjoy it.
There will be homework. I’m sure when I was this age I had none, but oh how times have changed. It varies from school to school, I know. You can safely expect reading books, phonics work, maths, projects, any or all of them. You’ll find your child’s style and approach to homework quite quickly, so just go with them and persevere.
Oh, and the letters. There will be letters! Remember to check through their bag every evening as it’s rare that we go a few days without a letter coming home. My top tip here is mark everything down on your calendar as it comes through, along with perusing the newsletters fully for notable dates. And return letters and slips the next day, so nothing mounts up – don’t let it mount up!
There will be school trips, discos, assemblies, fairs, non-uniform days, show and tells, class projects and so much more. And just when you think they’re getting really tired out, a holiday will roll around. They come round quite quickly, and the relief from the school run is always welcome.
You will adjust so easily to the new routine. Two weeks in and the school run will feel old-hat, you’ll know what you are doing and and what to expect, and the school gate faces will already be so familiar and friendly. Time will fly.
And your child throughout all of this? Well, in most cases, they will tell you very little of their day when you ask them each afternoon. This seems to be standard, no matter how chatty your child. I get to hear about lunch and maybe, if I’m lucky, one other thing from that day. I always know if someone’s been very naughty, that gets reported back to me quickly enough! I know that she is happy, I know that she skips into school and skips back out, laughing with her friends. I know that she is safe there.
They will grow, they will learn, and they will most probably amaze you. Yes their world has expanded, their teacher often carries more sway than you do, and you’ll spot different phrases they’ll pick up from friends and impress you with new facts that they’ve learned that day. But you will remain the centre of that world.
They will still be the child that you cherish so much now. They will still want your cuddles. They will still come to you when they are hurt or afraid. They will still love having tickle time with you. They will still want time with you baking, crafting, gardening, reading, playing and whatever else it is that you enjoy now. There will still be time for adventures, trips to the park, and snuggly movie afternoons.
You are not losing your baby, you’re simply taking off on a new adventure together. Let the new chapter begin…