With school places announced last week, I thought it would be useful to draw on the wisdom of top parent bloggers and have them share with us their advice for those parents who will soon have school starters.
It is a scary time for many of us, as we wonder what the school days will bring for our children. Will they settle? Will they enjoy it? Will they be able to keep up? Will their teacher look after them? Will their be a surge of letters, workshops and homework? – most probably! I’ve asked top parenting bloggers to share their words of wisdom on starting school, from summer babies to shy children, from easing those early worries to some practical tips. Hopefully these ladies will help….
On easing your worries…
Donna at What the Redhead Said
I know it’s easier said than done – but try not to worry. You’ll worry about whether your child will be ok, whether they’ll cope, whether they’ll make friends and just whether they are ready for school. But within a few weeks everything will have fallen into place and your little boy or girl will suddenly seem to much bigger – they’ll be a full fledged school child and they will be fine. It’s natural to worry, but your son or daughter is going to be OK.It's natural to worry, but your son or daughter is going to be OK. Click To Tweet
Sarah at Extraordinary Chaos
If I had to give 1 piece of advice to new school parents I would say relax and be prepared. You get so much information at the end of a nursery day, however school is so very different with limited advice, especially on what you child ate for lunch, when they used the loo etc. I remember this being such a shock, going from information overload to limited information at the end of the day, but chill, if there are any issues school will inform you.
Sarah at Mum of Three World
I think the main thing would be to say that – Reception teachers understand small children and their fears and they’ve seen it all before, so there’s nothing to worry about! So true, and Sarah also wrote Starting School – Fear of the Unknown, where she shares more advice.
On getting prepared….
Kara at Chelsea Mamma
My advice would be to be positive when talking about school, even if you’re worried that none of your children’s friends will be there and be encouraging on visits.
If you’re worried, talk to the teacher out of earshot of your child as they pick up on things easily!
Another tip would be to go to the welcome meeting (if the school has one). It’s a great way of meeting fellow parents, teachers and people like the PFA / PTA who help run school events and raise money for the school.
On getting involved….
Kim at Northumberland Mam
If your child’s school has a PTA (Parent Teacher Associations) see if you can join and help. Being involved with the PTA means you’ll find out more about how the school is run. You can be a fly on the wall. You will also get to know your child’s teacher better and meet other parents which is good for your and your child’s social life. I have helped out with the PTA for a couple of years now and had a great time. I have had the chance to go to school events where parent’s weren’t invited and also have a say in how the funds raised are spent.Being involved with the PTA means you’ll find out more about how the school is run. Click To Tweet
On the practicalities…
Emma at BrummyMummyof2
My advice would be to make sure that you check their bag every day when they get in from school and especially when a school holiday starts. You never know when an important letter is lurking at the bottom or worse…a giant homework project you might miss! Your child will never forgive you if they turn up in full school uniform on a non school uniform day or if they are the only not to have built a giant model of something stupid!
Colette at We’re Going on an Adventure
My number one piece of advice for parents of new school children is: Label everything! Honestly. You don’t need to bother with sewing or ironing on labels these days, you can buy stickers now which take seconds to apply and last forever. I’m not saying labelling your child’s clothes means they won’t ever lose them but they’ve got a far better chance of making it back to you if they’ve got a name on! You wouldn’t believe the number of parents who just don’t bother to label their child’s uniform – chances are there’s going to be at least one other child with the same t shirt / dress / jumper in the class. There’s nothing worse than being in a class full of kids after a PE lesson with unlabelled clothes, while they inform you “Mine is age 4” or “It’s from Asda” or “No that one doesn’t smell like mine” . . . Just label it.'No that one doesn't smell like mine' . . . Just label it. Click To Tweet
On supporting a shy child…
Mary at Over 40 and a Mum to One
My advice for a new school parent with an anxious/shy child would be to talk through what’s going to happen with your child. If possible arrange for the child to have a pre-start visit to meet the teacher and see their new class environment. See if any friends they might have had from pre-school are going to be in the same class and perhaps arrange for them to arrive on the first day together. Never be afraid of discussing any concerns you have with the teacher. My son is very shy and we were lucky that it’s only as he’s joined Year One that I haven’t been able to walk into class with him. I know most schools expect Reception aged children to leave their parents at the door. If your child is going to struggle with this, make sure the teaching staff know and that they are there to guide your child safely into class without you. We’ve had many parting moments in the past where my son didn’t want to leave me, but was fine 2 minutes after I’d left. The teachers will have seen it all before and good ones will work with parents to ensure each child is happy in their new environment, and will help to build their confidence. I found the second day was worst than the first as my son knew what was coming, be prepared, hold back the tears and carry on. It’s hard and emotional but they will be ok. Also, be prepared that having a week off for half term will seem like a year for some children, and you do feel like you’re in a vicious circle of emotions, your child is just beginning to settle and then they’ve got 2 weeks off for Christmas. It all starts again. Be patient, remain calm and one day that anxious, shy little child will walk into class with barely a backwards glance.
On summer babies….
Cheryl at Time to Craft
Don’t worry if you have a summer baby. It can be an anxious time for you, as a parent, running up to September. Will they cope? After all, they are only just 4.
At some point, in the playground, you’re likely to end up standing next to a mother with a child in the same class as yours. She will probably declare, a bit too loudly, that her Jemima is on chapter books. You’ll shuffle your feet and look down, in the knowledge that your child won’t even look at the easiest Biff and Chip book in their book bag, let alone get it out of their bag and read it.
Don’t worry. Her child is probably 11 months older than yours. Your offspring has time to catch up. Remember that education is more like a long distance run than a sprint. Everyone develops at different rates. They have spurts and lulls in their learning, just as they do when they grow. Even Jemima will refuse to read her books at some point.Remember that education is more like a long distance run than a sprint. Click To Tweet
Best advice I can give you, and I have 2 summer babies, is to support them at home as much as they will allow you. Let them read the back of cereal boxes or magnetic letters arranged on the fridge. Make posters for the walls. They will catch up.
On managing your expectations….
Sarah at Extraordinary Chaos
Be prepared no matter how much you ask you child what they did today if they are anything like our two the answer will always be nothing! You literally have to drag information about their day out of them.
Emma at Life at the Little Wood
As eager as you may be, don’t grill your child on how their day was immediately after they come out of school. Three children in, I’ve learnt that ‘good’ is about the only response you’ll get at home time! We’ve found that they’re much more likely to chat around the dinner table or just before bed. We try to focus on the positive and ask them about what they enjoyed that day, and one new thing that they learnt. Even if it’s just finding their coat peg independently, or managing a knife and fork at dinner time, that’s still progress and definitely worth praising!
You might find ‘5 Ways to Get Your Child Talking About Their School Day‘ useful here.
On encouragement (and water bottles!)…
Louise at A Strong Coffee
Don’t compare your child to others. They will learn to read and write in their own time. My eldest was quite slow to start and I would worry when I saw others on higher reading bands. Encourage but don’t push. They are still so little and they will get there. 4 years on and his reading is above his age so all the worry was silly.
And on a lighter note don’t buy a metal water bottle as they dent so badly when they drop them all the time that they wont stand up properly! (Or it may be that I just have boys that drop them A LOT!)
I wrote a post at the end of my girl’s Reception year ‘A letter to soon-to-be school children‘ full of tips and advice, and the main thing I’d want to leave you with from that is….
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…You are not losing your baby, you’re simply taking off on a new adventure together. Click To Tweet
I do hope that this post has reassured and helped. We all know what it’s like, what you’re going through, we have been there. We hope all goes smoothly for you in September.