Ok, we have survived a term and school is now back after the Christmas break. So, after going through what we have found to be a very tricky transition (yep, both of us!) I decided to share with you lovely lot who are completing your application forms what to REALLY expect when your child starts school. Because let’s face it, there is plenty that the school will not tell you at the parent’s evenings, there will be areas that are quickly glossed over and there are things that just simply get missed or do not seem quite as important, but as I have found out, what isn’t a big deal to some may be a big deal to you.
Ok, kicking off with the one thing I was dreading. The daily, 5 times a week, twice a day school run. I knew I was going to hate it and I did. Bearing in mind I also had a ten-month-old in tow too which made everything in September much harder, much slower and much more stressful. If you have been used to a daily nursery run this area may not faze you at all but if like me, you have only done a few pre-school runs a week you may find this all a bit much.
Problems can include:
Getting out the door on time– You will find your rhythm but it may take the entire first term. My top tip would be to listen out for what’s on CBeebies at the time when you should be leaving. That theme tune will send your heart into a panicked flurry!!
De-icing the car (urgh!)– make more time for anything like this. Also, rain because every other sodding parent takes their car on those days!
Finding a parking space– Even though I scoped out the school beforehand I stupidly had it in my head that we would walk every day. Yeah, so that hasn’t happened which has meant that I’ve had to find appropriate places to park because the car park and the road outside gets jam-packed very quickly. My tip would be to find somewhere nearby that will always have space and wander into the school from there. Don’t sit and wait for someone to leave the carpark and DO NOT get stuck in it!! There is often no way out!
Dragging both kids to the school playground– Your child will not want to walk the 100 yards because ‘it’s soooo far and my legs hurt’ even though it’s only 8:40 am and they haven’t done anything yet! Don’t forget that you’ll also be lumbered with the bookbag, the water bottle, the coat (because they refuse to wear it), the PE kit and whatever else is needed. Add the baby and you will be left wondering what method of baby transportation will be the quickest and easiest method- carry? Sling? Pushchair? All of which have their own drawbacks by the way!
Getting a pushchair into the playground– With steps, people not looking, kids running in front of you, people rushing, footballs being kicked in the playground, heavy gates to pull open it is honestly a task. It wasn’t something I had even thought about before the first day and I wish I had taken it all into consideration. Babywearing is a better option BUT you need to be organised enough to put your sling on before you leave the house in order to save you time once you are there and as I couldn’t even get us there on time most days, I certainly didn’t have time for the sling!
Other problems include:
Collecting them– Nothing can prepare you for how fast 3 pm can come around. When I used to go to school I used to wonder what my Mum did all day with alllll that time she had on her hands, hahaha, what. A. Joke. Time? You blink and it’s 2:30 pm and you realise you haven’t done half the stuff you wanted to and you are so not prepared to get back in the car and get back up the school already!
Top Tip: Learn how to run… fast!
You are going to hear over and over that they will be tired because of school. Yeah, ok I think tired is an understatement! Try exhausted, delirious, wound up, angry, frustrated and all of those lovely traits you thought you’d left behind with the terrible two’s!! You may not recognise your child for the first term or so but apparently it does get better as I keep being told?!
The best thing to do is to just let them be. Don’t keep asking them what they did all day because they won’t ever tell you anyway, let them chill in front of the telly after school and you may find that moving bedtime half an hour earlier happens quite naturally.
Top Tip: Ignore most of the horror-type behaviour because it isn’t worth the aggro it will cause you. Also, the I-pad will become your best friend!!
Oh, my word the hunger!! Seriously, how on earth can one child be that hungry even after having a hot school dinner?!! It actually drives me bonkers hearing the words I’m hungry from the moment I collect him until dinner. He can eat snack after snack after snack and he’s still not filled so the only resolution is to give dinner at 4:30 pm on some days which does work out well if you wanna get in an earlier bath and bedtime.
Top Tip: Never, ever, turn up at the school gate without a snack in your bag!!
Jake went to school not knowing one person. His pre-school friends all went to other schools and it worried me that he would feel a little lost to begin with. Even as sociable as he is, I was concerned that he would find the size of the class and all the new faces overwhelming but I really didn’t have anything to worry about. Kids are so good at making friends, aren’t they? I promise there will be someone there that your child will cling onto for dear life!!
Top Tip: Create a Facebook group for the other parents to join so you can familiarise yourself with who is going to be at the school gate. You could also arrange summer holiday meet-ups so the children get to know one another before school starts.
Yes, homework does exist in reception year and yes, it has been my biggest bugbear, Jake’s biggest upset and I hate it. All schools are different so I would definitely recommend that you find out what is expected prior to them starting as I wasn’t expecting books, keywords, phonics etc to be coming home within the first couple of weeks of starting!
I have learnt that as a parent you can only do what you can do. I cannot make him learn at home, I do not have the time every day, I do not have the patience all the time and I also have a baby who demands a lot of my attention. Homework at 4 years old isn’t something I personally agree with but that’s a whole other blog post…
Top Tip: Speak to the school regularly if your child is struggling and if needs be, look into getting some extra help from a tutor at home just to try and guide them through.
Ok, this is the biggie. If you think you get to drop your kid off at school every day, forget about it all for 6 hours and then chill out at home in the evening, you will be mistaken. What nobody told me was that it’s not just your child who goes to school, you bloody do too!!
Oh yes, the non-uniform days to plan, the costume days, the food bank collections, the clothing donation collections, the cake sales, the parties, the school fairs, parent workshops, parents evenings… the list goes on and on and on. I felt as though I had been caught up in a whirlwind from the day he started until Christmas and by the end of it all I was just as exhausted as he was!!
Just be prepared for the letters, the parent mail, the requests and get yourself organised because there is a lot to remember, believe me!
Top Tip: Buy the cakes, make do with costumes you have at home, borrow costumes, always have pound coins lying around the house for non-uniform days and ALWAYS check the school calendar because things change in a flash!!
My biggest piece of advice would be to do what you need to do in order to get through the first tough term. It’s tiring for everybody, the new routine can take a while to settle in to, other children need to also adapt to getting up and ready and out the door, you will all be tired and frazzled and you definitely shouldn’t be tough on yourself if you find the change a bit much at first. It is a HUGE step for everybody and I am pretty sure that I am going to learn even more about being a school Mum the rest of this year.
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