Starting school – ‘netmums’ article
One of our parents drew our attention to this article on ‘netmums’ and we think it may help!
We all want our kids to get off to a great start at school, and it can be daunting to hand your tiny four-year-old over to people you’ve barely met before.
But over the next three terms, your child’s Reception teacher will become a big part of your life and theirs, and having a good relationship with her can make the year go far more smoothly.
We asked this anonymous Reception teacher what she wishes her pupils’ parents would do and not do. Here’s what she told us…
1. Be organised
2. Label everything
We simply don’t have time to reunite 15 stray, nameless shirts with their owners after PE, so labelling all of your child‘s kit will spare you from having to delve deep in the fusty lost property basket in search of that expensive jumper you only bought a few weeks ago.
If it can be taken off, put down or left behind, label it!
3. Let us know if there’s a problem
If you child had a bad night’s sleep, is sad about a lost teddy, or is being bothered by another child at playtime, please tell us: if we don’t know about problems, we can’t help.
Send in a brief note or grab the teacher or teaching assistant in the morning to pass on the info.
4. Don’t expect a long talk at morning drop off
With 30 kids to get into school and a busy schedule to get through, we don’t have time for in-depth chats at the start of the day.
If you need to speak about something, catch us at the end of the day, send an email or ask the office to make an appointment for a proper conversation. We’re here to listen, but it’s so much easier when we have the time to hear you out.
5. Mind your language
We’re not expecting any effing and blinding, obviously, but too many parents fall into the trap of saying things like, ‘Oh, Mummy’s going to miss you sooo much!’
It’ll just encourage your child to be clingy, so be bright and positive and save your tears for outside the classroom if you can.
6. Don’t string out the goodbyes
We know it’s hard when your child is sobbing and clinging to your legs, but believe us, he’ll setlle much quicker once you’re gone.
We promise to get the office to phone you and let you know when your child has calmed down, so grit your teeth and leave without a drama: it’s best for everyone involved.
7. Get help if drop-offs are tough
If your child is finding it hard to be left at school, it’s worth asking someone else to do the drop-off for a few days – especially if it’s making you tearful too.
Sometimes children get into a habit of being upset when you say goodbye, and getting Daddy or Grandma to step in short-term can help break the pattern.
8. Make sure we know about medical needs
If your child has a health condition, it’s important for us to know how to handle it.
If, for example, he has asthma, it’s a huge help if you share the action plan agreed with your GP and send a spare (labelled) reliever inhaler to school, where it can be kept in the classroom or office in case it’s needed.
Telling us about your child’s symptoms and what to do if he’s feeling unwell (for instance, can he take his medication by himself, or does he need help?) means we can do our best to keep him safe and well.
Asthma UK has useful advice on the info you should be passing on.
9. Teach him what to do at lunchtimes
If your child is having school dinners, it’s helpful if he knows how to cut up food himself and pour a drink.
If he’s bringing a packed lunch, make sure he can open his lunch box and water bottle himself: no fiddly cling film, please!
Midday supervisors are on hand to help, but the more independent he is, the better.
10. Avoid tights on PE days
Putting tights on a wriggly child is a bit like trying to give a cat a bath. Multiply that by 10 or more, and you can imagine how long it takes to get the kids sorted after a gym lesson.
Stick to socks with a skirt or trousers on PE days, and save tights and clothes with fiddly fastenings for days when your child won’t need to undress.
11. Sign his reading journal
It’s the only way we’ll know that he’s reading regularly at home. You can also use it to let us know about any issues that crop up, with his reading or school in general.
12. Label letters, forms and envelopes
Make sure your child’s name and class is clearly written on any paperwork you send to school, like payments for trips or permission forms for after-school clubs, otherwise working out who sent it in is a process of elimination: tricky if five other parents have also forgotten to label their envelope!
13. Keep contact details up to date
It sounds obvious, but it’s essential to tell the office if your mobile number or email address changes so we can always get hold of you if we need to.
14. Check your child’s bag daily
Wherever possible, we’ll pass important letters straight to you at home time, but sometimes they get put in book bags instead, so have a quick look each afternoon to make sure you’re not missing out on anything.
15. Don’t let your child bring in treasured possessions
Your child might feel happier about going to school if he’s clutching his favourite teddy, but imagine how upset he’ll be if it gets lost.
If your child does need a cuddle, we’ve got a few snuggly friends in the classroom who can help out. And if they’re desperate to show us their new toy or book, let them do at drop-off and then take it home with you.
16. Check for nits regularly
Arm yourself with a Nitty Gritty comb, and keep long hair tied back for school: headlice spread like wildfire through Reception classes.
17. Don’t compare your child with others
It’s easy to get hung up on what your child’s classmates are doing or what reading level they’re on, but kids have different strengths and weaknesses, and don’t all progress at the same rate.
Your teacher will look at every child as an individual and make sure they’re working at the right standard – we promise!
If you have any concerns, talk to us, but don’t measure your child against anyone else in the class at this early stage.
18. Keep him at home if he’s poorly
Yes, it’s inconvenient to have your child off sick, but it’s not fair on him to send him to school feeling lousy, and we don’t want germs to spread to other kids (or teachers).
Most schools say children should be kept home for 48 hours after sickness or diarrhoea, so please, please stick to the rules, otherwise bugs can quickly turn into plagues!
19. Prepare for after-school meltdowns
It’s pretty exhausting for a four- or five-year-old to behave well for hours on end, so don’t be surprised if all that pent-up tension comes out after school.
Tears and tantrums are to be expected in the first term, so give your child space to chill and keep clubs and activities to a minimum at first.
20. Stock up on after-school snacks
Early learning is hungry work, and producing a cereal bar or piece of fruit in the playground can be the difference between a contented kid and a whinging, stroppy one!
21. Don’t take your child too literally
It’s heartbreaking if your child tells you that nobody played with them or someone was mean, but keep an open mind: children aren’t always the most reliable witnesses and playground dramas often blow over within days.
That said, if you have any worries, let us know. We can keep a special eye out for your child and get to the bottom of what’s going on.
22. Read with your child every day
And then read some more! Whether it’s their school book, a library book, a comic or their favourite bedtime story, reading is probably the single most important thing you can do to support your child’s learning.
23. Don’t panic about teething problems
It can take time for even the most confident child to settle into school: it’s a big change and a whole new adventure.
Whatever happens, remember that we’re just as keen for your child to feel happy and secure at school as you are. Keep talking to us; by the end of the year, you’ll both have forgotten any early upsets.
What advice would you give to parents of children about to start Reception? We’d love to hear it!