Beat your first day of school nerves
You’re standing at the school gates, waving your child off as they pass through the door and into their classroom for the very first time. Then your mind flashes back to the day your little one was born (wasn’t that only yesterday?) and suddenly the idea of letting them go off on their own seems impossible. It's normal to feel emotional on your child's first day at school, but it's important to put on a brave face for their benefit. So how can you keep the tears at bay and ease those first-day-nerves?
Be prepared and get excited
Despite the nerves, this is a really exciting time for both you and your child. Whether it’s reading a book about starting school, wearing their uniform around the house or going on shopping trips for new school shoes, be sure to take time to talk about and get your child excited about starting school. It also gives you the chance to listen to and address any concerns they might have. The more you talk about it, the less intimidating it will seem.
You could also watch BBC Bitesize Starting Primary School videos, designed to introduce your child to the world of school and to give you advice and practical information, too.
Do what you can to familiarise your child with the school as much as possible before they start. Go to all the new parent events to chat with your child’s teacher, meet members of the parent association and swap details with other parents. Their phone numbers and email addresses may come in handy when faced with lost property or arranging playdates over the coming months; you can also check whether there's a Facebook group for the mums in your child's class or year group, as is increasingly common. See if children going to the same school can meet during the holidays to make friends before they start. It can also be useful to find other parents near to you, who might be able to help share the school run.
However you choose to label your child's uniform, make sure you put a name on everything. You can buy labels with pictures which are great for helping children who can’t read their name yet to identify their clothes. Also, be sure to stock up on spares (does the school offer second-hand uniform for sale?). Reception classes are messy places, and jumpers will get lost, and trousers ripped.
Keep calm and carry on
Children sense anxiety, so if you seem worried they will pick up on it. The start of school is an emotional time, but often children are ready to start the next chapter and so go off without so much as a backward glance. Make sure you and your child have as much time as possible on the first morning before school to ensure that it's not a mad rush to get out the door. Have breakfast together, and keep smiling and be enthusiastic, however you may be feeling inside. And don’t forget to leave time for that all important photo of them in their uniform.
Don’t be surprised by waterworks
The first year at school is a big change for both of you so prepare yourself for some tired tantrums as your child gets used to the new routine. Try to be patient: it’s completely normal for your child to be a little bit more prone to tears and outbursts while they’re adjusting. Make sure they eat well and get as much sleep as possible in those first few weeks to keep their energy levels up, and try to establish a school-day routine as quickly as possible.
Joining the school parent teacher association (PTA) is a great way to help you get to know the school and be a part of your child’s school life. Attend any meetings you can make and help out with events, and you’ll meet a friendly group of parents who know the school well and are able to offer advice and information.