Written by Tracey Blake
– Your four-year-old is starting in reception. You feel a strange combination of excited/sad/happy/nervous/stressed/tearful/giggly. Chances of you crying as they go in are probably higher than them crying. Under no circumstances let your child see you sob – put on a brave face until you have reached the school gates, your car or a nearby coffee shop.
– It does feel odd sending a child to school with an empty bag but they will not need a pencil case, pencils notebooks, or indeed any stationary. As long as they have a rucksack with a bottle of water in it (and a packed lunch if you are not doing free school lunches) then you’re good to go for the foreseeable.
– No matter how organised/prepared you think you are for the first morning of school-run mayhem, it’s almost certainly going to be chaos. Don’t beat yourself up about it. If you don’t have older children (and are therefore not a hardened school-run veteran) you will need to accept that every morning will be like this from now on.
– Worried that your child eats with their fingers rather than cutlery? Can’t wipe their own bottom? Refuses to eat anything that’s not beige? Don’t worry about it – the teachers have seen it all before and won’t judge you as a parent. Remember that in many other countries kids don’t go to school til they are six or seven, so four-year-olds are still very young.
– The minute you collect your child from school you’ll want to grill them about their day, how it went, if they liked it, who they made friends with, what they had for lunch etc. Don’t be surprised if your enthusiastic questioning is met with one-word answers or maybe even an ‘I don’t want to talk about it’. This doesn’t mean they’ve had a terrible time, they are just exhausted.
– You’ll probably know at a glance which mums you want to befriend at the school gates. But try not to be too cliquey – speak to and smile at everyone. We’re all in this together and you never know when you might need help with pick-ups or playdates. This applies even more to working parents who don’t get to the school gates very often. Things may feel a little forced at first, but wait until the PTA organises the first social event at your local wine bar – free-flowing sauvignon makes for loose lips, firm friendships and excellent hangover stories to swap the next day. With this support squad on your side you will survive reception – and your child will too!