Tips for Starting School from PTA UK
It is now a month until Freyja starts reception. It doesn’t seem like any time has past since I was holding my tiny, precious baby in my arms moments after she was born, and here she is ready to embark on the next big chapter of her life. Being a teacher, I experience hundreds of children starting school (albeit secondary school) every year, but as a mother, I am seeing this from a completely different perspective. This has inspired me to put together a series of posts looking at starting school – I really hope you will find them useful!
In this post, I have been given some brilliant tips and advice from PTA UK to make mine and Freyja’s new start go as smoothly as possible and I had to share these with you:
A child’s first ever day at school. Possibly one of the most significant days of their lives, marking the start of their educational journey. It’s not just a big day for the children however, for parents, sending their child to school can be very emotional, especially when it’s for the first time.
It can often be tough for parents to get to grips with leaving their child in the classroom, but with the right amount of organisation, parents can feel confident that their child’s first day, and beyond, will be successful and enjoyable. To help with the preparation and minimise any anxiety, some PTA UK members have come up with six of the best top tips to help ease both parents and children into school life:
1. Prepare and practice – Take the time to talk to your child about starting school and practice some of the things they will be doing. For example, get your child to wear their new uniform around the house, teach them how to get in and out of their PE kit and encourage them to use cutlery at lunchtime. Doing these small things in advance will help them adapt to school processes and get them excited about starting school.
Freyja loves wearing her school uniform around the house – especially showing it off to other family members. Her nursery have also been brilliant helping her to prepare with things like using cutlery and recognising her name.
2. Familiarise and socialise – Do what you can to familiarise your child with the school as much as possible before they start. Play dates with soon-to-be class mates is a great way of warming them up for September! Don’t forget it’s also important for you to meet other ‘new’ parents as they’ll be going through the same thing.
Freyja’s new school have had a series of events running for the new reception where Freyja has had a chance to meet her teachers and new class mates. I was relieved to find out that one of her friends from nursery will be in the same class as her, but we have also had a couple of other play dates with another little girl who will also be in the same class. It makes me feel a lot happier knowing that she will have a few friends there when she starts.
3. Label, label, label – Label every piece of uniform no matter how big or small the item – tops, jumpers, socks, you name it. It’s also handy to stock up on spares as Reception classes can be messy places! The labels with the pictures are great for children that can’t yet read their names.
I have already started doing this with some brilliant name labels which Freyja was able to design herself. I will share more about these in another post.
4. Be positive and calm – It’s most likely that your child will be nervous so they certainly don’t need you adding to it. Children sense anxiety; if you appear worried they’ll pick up on it. Most of the time, they are ready to start the next chapter and if there are a few tears, it’s completely normal. Walk off without a backward glance and don’t feel guilty.
Thankfully Rich will be doing most of the morning drop-offs and Freyja is used to this with her current nursery routine. However, I will be taking her in on my day off. I will be doing my best to send her off with a kiss, a smile and wave. And I do have the distraction of her little sister to help me not look like I am anxious!
5. Get ready for tired tantrums! – The first year at school is a massive change for them so do prepare yourself for meltdowns. Combat this by making sure they get as much food and sleep as possible to keep their energy levels up.
I am not looking forward to this but it is inevitable! Freyja’s tantrums are usually down to being tired or hungry and with a new routine for us both to get used to, it could take us a couple of weeks to find out a new way of working. She doesn’t start full time straight away, but has a series of morning and afternoon sessions before she starts full time, and I am sure this will help with the transition. In the mean time, it will be a case of stopping up on snacks and taking her lead when it comes to meal times and bedtime until we find a routine that works for us.
6. Immerse yourself in school life – Getting involved in the PTA is a great way to get to know the school and be a part of your child’s school life. Attend any meetings you can make, and you’ll meet a friendly group of parents who know the school well and are able to offer advice and information.
Ultimately, the key is not to fear the process, but embrace it. Before you know it, the first week will be over and it will become a regular routine for content children and proud parents.
PTA UK has created a Welcome Pack for parents new to the school process. The pack includes tips for first time school starters, advice and special offer vouchers. Any teachers or PTAs interested in receiving packs can find out more here: http://www.pta.org.uk/News/PTA-UK-helps-make-starting-school-childs-play