Like this? Then read How to Prepare your Child for Primary School
If it is not permanently attached to your child, put their name on it! Labels help them identify their own clothes, and also help staff deal with piles of identical jumpers and bookbags. If your child isn’t reading yet, use labels with little pictures next to their name. There are lots of quick and effective alternatives to sew-in nametapes, including stamps, iron-on tags, or indeed, the old marker pen on the label trick.
Children don’t get a lot of time to eat lunch, and usually they don’t want to sit down for too long, so make sure packed lunch quantities are manageable. If your child will be having a hot dinner (all Reception children in England are entitled to a free school lunch), look at the menu together in advance to make choosing less daunting. Try out similar meals at home so they get used to the food on offer, but don’t underestimate peer power – children will often give new things a go at school without much resistance.
It’s not a race
Try and dodge playground discussions about whose child can already read or count – your child will develop at their own pace. The qualities that matter most in Reception age children are things like curiosity, independence, imagination, and enjoying playing and sharing with other children.
“Nothing” and “I can’t remember” are standard answers to questions about your child’s day. If you’re used to detailed nursery handovers, this lack of information can come as a bit of a shock. Don’t be discouraged: wait a little and the stories will come out, usually at an odd time – when they’re in the bath or on the toilet. Try asking specific questions like “who did you play with at break” or “what made you laugh today?”
Be positive and calm
Your child may feel anxious if they see that you are worried. Accept that, just like them, you will learn as you go. If you have concerns talk to the teacher, school office, or head teacher; they are there to help – open communication is best. On the first day don’t stay around at drop off; it’s generally best to leave them to it and have a box of tissues ready at home – just in case!
Get involved in school life
Getting involved in the school PTA, volunteering to help with reading, or joining a parent council, are all great ways to be involved with the school and take part in your child’s school life. Attend meetings and get-togethers and you will soon get to know other parents who understand the school well.
Parentkind (formerly PTA UK) is a national charity that supports Parent Teacher Associations nationwide, with advice, information and online forums for parents to share ideas and ask questions. For more information and advice visit www.parentkind.org.uk