This September marks not only my eldest daughter’s very last first day in school, but also my youngest daughter’s first day in school. Kerri is really looking forward to starting year 11 and is excited at the prospect of completing her GCSE’s, whereas Aurelia is really nervous about leaving her private day nursery and starting nursery at primary school. Having gone through this whole process before with Kerri, I know that Aurelia will be fine. I just wish I would have known what to expect and what to do with myself on the first day she started school. So here’s a few tips on surviving your child’s first day at school.
Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Made!
In the days leading up to the big day, discuss it with your child. Ask how they are feeling about it and try to settle any concerns they may have. I felt really guilty when dropping Kerri off for her first day; in the playground she asked: ‘Will I have my bath here now’? After a little discussion, I discovered she was under the impression she would be sleeping there as well! (I thought I had explained all this, evidently not clearly enough). Ensure you have fully explained to your child the timetable of the day; register, play, snack time, lunch, etc. this will help them to better understand what to expect from school (and that you will of course be collecting them at the end of the day)!!!
Ensure your child is fully involved in the preparations, including buying all uniform and school essentials. Again this fully prepares them for the big day. We have had some memorable girly days out buying Aurelia’s school items. This has made the whole process enjoyable for Aurelia. Hopefully when she looks at her Moana back-pack she will be reminded of the time she had her first Costa hot chocolate! Make sure that the school bag is prepared a day or two in advance so there is no rushing on the big day.
The Big Day!
Remember, your child is going to be nervous, you are going to be nervous, an atmosphere of calm needs to be created. Wake up extra, extra, extra early so that you can take your time on that special morning. As much as possible, give your child your full un-divided attention. If required, do a trial run to see how long it will take you to get to school and make sure you leave with plenty of time to spare on the big day. Arriving at school early will make it much easier to chat to your child and ease him or her into their new environment.
Some children cry, some don’t. Kerri was all smiles in the first week and then had a major melt-down in the second week. All children are different and the teachers know this. Ignore what other parents or children are doing (as a young parent I was always afraid people were judging whatever I did with Kerri) – focus on your child. Kids have a brilliant way of crying in front of you to make you feel guilty and then cheering up once you have left. I always thought this was a tale the teachers told to make parents feel better; Kerri’s school had a viewing window for concerned parents and believe me this really is true! A few minutes, sometimes even seconds after I left, Kerri would be playing and laughing!
So … What do I do Now?
Once you’ve dropped your child off at school, what do you do with yourself? This is a huge day for you too! I would suggest doing something you enjoy to take your mind off your child (I know, impossible). On Aurelia’s first day back in school I have planned to meet a friend for coffee – we’ve not had a good catch up whilst the children have been off school. If possible try not to spend this day alone – you will only be constantly thinking about your little one. Also, try and get out of the house – you will only dwell on how empty the house feels without your child there. Perhaps do some shopping or go for a walk.
The time soon passes and you will be bombarded with stories of how your child’s day went (or, if your child is like Kerri, you will only be told about what they ate for lunch)!
Sending best wishes to all parents whose children are about to embark on their new journey! (A journey for both child and parent)!