If your child is starting in reception this year you’re probably feeling all the nerves (I was this time last year)! We have had some difficult moments with Amelie settling, but a year on she is thriving in her class, has so much more confidence and importantly is happy.
I have put together my top 10 tips for starting school, I hope they are useful!
Top Tips for Starting School
1) Meet their new class
Meet up with some of their new class over the summer holidays, if you can. We organised a picnic in a local park around the beginning of August and it was great for the parents to meet, but also fantastic for the children to see each other after the settling sessions in June/July. It made it easier on the first week knowing other families and helped me try to settle her as we could find friends for her to go into school with.
2) They will be tired
I was not prepared for how tired Amelie would be (and still is). In the first term, she was going to bed about 6pm and waking up at her normal time so she was obviously shattered. They are learning so much and taking in so many new experiences, so they are bound to be more tired. We made a lot of changes to our routine in that first term to make sure Amelie could get enough rest and nap if needed at the weekends.
3) Have a snack ready for when they finish
Amelie and Evie don’t usually have afternoon snacks, but when Amelie started school she really needed one (even after a school lunch)! I make things like wraps, sandwiches and muffins for her as she always wants something filling.
4) Clubs and activities
There are so many clubs and activities for our little ones these days, but I tried to avoid signing Amelie up to new ones in the first term of school as she was just too tired to do them. We started a dance class in the last term of school which she loves, but I do think it was the right decision not to do any additional ones as she settled into her new routine. You’ll know your child and how active they are (or if they’re a summer born and younger, like Amelie) so just consider that they are going to be more tired than usual.
5) Try not to talk about it too much over the holidays
One of the best tips I got was to not talk about starting school too much over the holidays. It sounds silly but Amelie had no concept of time, so if I said ‘you’ll be going in September’ I found she had no idea what September was or when it would be. Every time we talked about school it prompted lots of questions from her about when and lots of worry about leaving and missing me. She also became unsettled at pre-school for a few weeks, which the teachers there said was quite normal when school conversations started.
I decided to drop the conversation about starting school to a minimum and made the most of enjoying our summer holidays together.
6) Keep the first day normal
Another brilliant tip I had was to keep the first day as normal as possible. We didn’t take any pictures in the morning, I was up earlier than the girls so there was no rush and we calmly did the walk to school. Some children might be absolutely fine on the first morning but I knew Amelie was nervous and wanted to keep it all as normal and calm as possible for her.
7) If you want to be a class rep now is the time…
I have been a class rep this year with two other Mums and it has been a brilliant year to be one. Everyone is keen to help and it’s a great way to meet everyone. I am told the subsequent years aren’t quite as easy (when it comes to getting volunteers) so reception is a good year to volunteer if you want to do so.
8) They can often struggle in the second week
We found Amelie settled really well in the first week and were thrilled, but in the second week, we had lots of tears. We weren’t alone and we think the first week was a lot of excitement for the children but when it all became a routine they struggled. Keep upbeat, even if you feel like crying as well and they’ll get better soon, I promise!
9) When you say goodbye, go!
I remember the teacher taking Amelie off me in tears one day and saying ‘bye Mummy’. As a Mother all you want to do is cuddle your little ones and help them, but I have found staying with Amelie only makes the separation worse. I often feel dreadful walking away when she cries but I am assured that 30 seconds after I leave she is absolutely fine.
10) Enjoy it.
There are so many wonderful parts of your little one starting school; how much they learn, the new friends they make, the new skills and opportunities – it’s wonderful. Even when we have had bad mornings she has come out with a beautiful painting for me and a huge smile and it’s just so lovely to see.
Good luck xx