Five Things That Nobody Has Told You About Your Child’s Reception Year
So your child is about to start Reception? It is an exciting and worrying time for both you and them, but as much as you do to prepare for it, there are some things that you just can’t prepare for. These are my top five hurdles that nobody told me about and how you can overcome them.
Most schools rely on communication with parents via email. In the first couple of days after your child starts Reception, you will feel well-informed by the emails that come from the school. However, a few weeks in, it is a completely different situation. The trickle of emails being delivered to you inbox has now become a torrent. There are general school emails, specific EYFS ones, PTA ones, changes to the calendar. Your phone starts pinging with more email notifications than it does in the middle of a WhatsApp conversation. Rather than now feeling on top of the home-school communication, you are now completely swamped. When is the next non-uniform day as the email sent at 11:24 seems to contradict the one sent at 9:58? Husband is completely clueless as he has given up even bothering to read the emails and you have now, by default become your child’s secretary.
The solution: There will be one parent from your child’s class who is on top of everything – seek them out, become friends and rely on them to keep you updated with everything that you need to know.
These are little vouchers that are used in Reception classes across the country. The idea is that as a parent, you record the little “wow” moments your child has out of school. Your child then takes it in to their teacher who shares with the class and adds to their Learning Journey. As a parent it becomes a bit of dilemma when to award a WOW voucher. For example, would it be seen as a bit braggy to award a WOW voucher for your child managing to play a Beethoven sonata on the piano? Also, would you want to send in a WOW voucher for your child’s teacher to read for the kind of activities you would like to award them a WOW voucher for – “managing to turn on the TV and getting to CBeebies all by themselves” or “going for a whole hour without fighting with their younger sibling”?
The solution: It’s all about using WOW vouchers to help you, and the use of wording: “not having a tantrum in the supermarket” = “demonstrating excellent behaviour and manners”, or “fetching mummy a can of gin and tonic from the fridge” = “helping mummy out”.
Children in Reception seem to do a lot of “planning time” – this appears to be free play. If your child is anything like mine they will make a beeline for the “junk modelling area”. I hate junk modelling. There is nothing more disheartening than meeting your child at the end of the day with their book bag overflowing with bits of cardboard and coloured string because not only are you expected to know what their model is supposed to be, you are expected to find a home for it. Once I was presented with an empty Chicken & Mushroom Cup-a-Soup box with a 1 metre length of pink wool taped onto it. The box had not been modified AT ALL, other than having the wool stuck on it. Apparently it was a dog on a lead.
The solution: There is no easy solution for this one. You don’t want to discourage your child from junk modelling if they love doing it, but at the same time, you cannot keep every badly decorated piece of cardboard they bring home. The best suggestion would be is to get your child to take it apart and then take the pieces back to school the next day so they can reuse them to make something else.
The class bear
At some point, your child will bring home the class bear. This will strike even more fear into your heart than the site of their latest junk modelling creation. Sod’s Law states that it will be your child’s turn with the bear on the first weekend you have had with nothing planned. It will also rain. Your relaxing weekend turns into one where you are desperately finding “exciting” things to do with the bear, which will probably be a trip to the supermarket and enjoying a takeaway pizza together. (You can read about Mr Buttons’ stay with us here.)
The solution: Hand the job over to chronicling the adventures of the class bear to your child. Let them draw pictures of all the things that the bear may have got up to. Obviously the bear won’t have actually been in a rocket to the moon and back over the weekend, but isn’t your child’s imagination a wonderful thing?
Before being let loose on trying to read books, a child in Reception will more than likely come across “Jolly Phonics”. This programme teaches literacy through synthetic phonics. There are 42 letter sounds each with their own action and song. Before long, you will be singing along to the songs. They will become your new earworm. You will find yourself singing “The snake is in the grass” as you go about your business. You will start spelling words out to adults using sounds (accompanied by the appropriate action of course) rather than using letters.
The solution: Just embrace it whilst it lasts, I mean, you’re not singing “Let it Go” anymore now are you?