For as long as you’ve known her, you’ve been the centre of her world. Whatever she needs, you’ve had it covered. You’ve overseen her milestones, and helped her navigate her friendships. She’s found her way through nursery, and flown solo without you there to see her triumphs. But now it’s time for starting school: a totally different ball game; a six-hour day without you. Not only that, but a day where 29 other children are also looking for the attention of a single stranger. And get this: that stranger is not there to play, cuddle and nurture; she is there to educate.
Who is the most scared..?
Mummy has noticed lots of chatter recently about the nerves of starting school. And remembering the summer before my first foray into the classroom, she is tempted to feel smug. I however, have reminded her just what a stress-bucket she was in the six weeks before my Reception year, as I ‘partied’ all night, lit the fuse to massive meltdowns, and deepened my relationship with the naughty step. A night-time medical issue drove her to seek advice from the doctor, who announced that as far as I was concerned, an earthquake was about to hit, and she should cut me some slack.
Needless to say, starting school was no-where near as cataclysmic as I had indicated, and with 2 lots of playground initiation procedures behind her, Mummy now feels qualified to proffer some advice for other parents building up to the big day. First of all, you need to know this:
YOUR CHILD WILL BE FINE!
But if you are still worried, there are some fabulous child-friendly tips for starting school over on Sunny Side Up, the blog of the lovely children’s author Clara Vulliamy. She sent us a copy of Martha and the Bunny Brothers, and it brought back all my own memories of starting school. If I had had this book back then, I might not have been so concerned about what the Bug would get up to in my room while I was out! I also spotted that my old pal Blue Kangaroo is starting school, which makes sense, given that he’s been on my bookshelves since I was about 2. And if you fancy getting some writing practice try Hello Kitty!
Now, onto the really important stuff. Starting school: what parents need to know.
5 School Rules for parents:
- Establish a routine: you know those mornings where you are still in pj’s when the second post comes? A thing of the past. Kiss those babies goodbye until the half-term holidays and get ahead of the game. Set the alarm – today! From now on, breakfast is a route-march through the cereal cupboard via the wardrobe. Get it right now, and you may even be able to navigate your first visit to the playground with a dash of mascara. Don’t try and find time for a shower though – that’s only for the professionals.
- Get up early: always overestimate how long it will take you to get ready. You will forget water bottles. The baby will poo/scream/demand food just as you open the front door. You will fail to notice your daughter’s inappropriate hair decoration until 8.25am. When (not if) the noise levels in your hallway exceed health and safety regulations, take comfort from knowing that half the population is yelling at their children at exactly the same time as you. They will all return home feeling like the worst parent ever, and they will all sink into the comfort of a doughnut. Remember this, and go easy on yourself.
- Walk away: hug your child on the playground, hand over the day’s necessities, and grin wildly as your baby crosses the threshold of the classroom for the first time. Then turn around, walk away, and don’t look back. Do not enter the classroom under any circumstances. Resist the shameless endeavours of your child to entice you in there. Show any sign of weakness and it’s all over; you can count on weeks of having your child ripped forcibly from your arms, whilst other parents tut and blame you for the tearful mob chain-reaction that ensues. You will never be invited back to be a classroom-helper, and you will forfeit the thank-you begonia at the end of the year.
- Stop ironing: However smart your child looks as he leaves the house, he will always return home looking like he spent the day crumpled at the bottom of a sweaty PE bag, left casually under the painting table. And as for white-board pen, it may well come off whiteboards, but it clings to uniform like a barnacle, so don’t even try. Top tip: keep one perfect shirt, still wrapped, ready to whip out on school photo day, or for your angel’s appearance in class assembly.
- Wing it: Don’t even attempt to make yourself look presentable on the playground. That’s what pick-up is for, when you’ve had just enough time to reconstruct yourself and the house, and can make it back to the classroom door looking normal. Yummy Mummies, in our experience, don’t exist; no-one looks good on the playground. If you find someone who does, avoid them at all costs; they will just make you want to eat extra doughnuts. When pushed, Mummy has always found that shoving a fleece and joggers over her nightie leaves others marvelling at her ability to fit in an exercise regime.
So that’s it. All you need to know about starting school. Once you’ve navigated the first hurdle, come back and tell us what’s next on your agenda. Chances are we’ve been there too, and will have a take on it…