Liz Moorsom has been a teacher for 10 years and is currently Head at Semley School. She has also seen 4 of her own children go off to school.
As well as being a teacher and a Headteacher I’m also the mother of four children and, even though the youngest is now at university, I can still remember the day that each of them started school.
I expect some of you will be eagerly looking forward to thismoment while others will feel it has arrived far too soon.
Inevitably there are quite a few unknowns, but I hope that I can share my experience from both sides, parent and teacher, to offer some useful tips.
The great thing to remember is that teachers like children! We like them all, shy diffident ones, confident boisterous ones and everything in between.
Do talk to your child’s teacher, share worries, concerns and good moments. A strong partnership between school staff and parents is one of the greatest benefits to your children.
Of all the things you may be worrying about, crying is probably at the top. My heart goes out to parents who have to leave a crying child, but most stop crying very quickly. Do trust us, we would never let them be unhappy all day and would get in touch with you if need be.
Here are a few tips.
- Always say goodbye and when you say goodbye go.
- Don’t stay chatting within the child’s view.
- If your child is tearful sit with them and do something alongside other children. Set something up for when they get home, for example if they have a favourite Teddy put it in the window ‘to look out for you when you come home’ or have a routine that they can look forward to and feel secure.
- Lastly be punctual at the end of the day
The other question on your mind may be ‘will other children like them?’ Almost certainly yes and sometimes no!
Children fall in and out of friendship very easily at this age. Today’s enemy may be tomorrow’s best friend. It helps if your child has experience of sharing and taking turns and knows they can’t always be first.
There is no obligation to have the whole class home for exotic birthday teas. You know yourself and your child and what you can manage and enjoy. Sometimes the simple visits are the most fun.
Most children enjoy school a lot, but every child will be unhappy sometimes.
- Don’t panic if they have a bad day.
- Give them lots of cuddles and time to talk.
- If it persists talk to their teacher and see if there is something that needs sorting.
Even children who are used to a full day at nursery find school more tiring to begin with. There are more people to meet, new routines to learn and increased expectations.
Every reception classroom has quiet areas where children can have a snooze or a thumb-sucking moment. If your child is obviously struggling or poorly the school will ring you.
There are some helpful things they should know when they start.
- Using the lavatory alone
- Washing their hands
- Using a knife and fork
- Sitting up at a table to eat
- Getting their coat on
are all very useful skills. Helping your child to be independent gives them confidence.
Children in a reception class will spend a lot of time playing. This is a vital part of learning and lays the foundation for their education.
For example playing in the role play area develops their conversation which has a positive impact on their ability to write. The first steps in reading are about understanding and enjoying stories. You may not get any reading books at all for quite a while, but don’t be anxious, your child will be developing all these skills as part of their school day.
And finally, you will remain for a long time the most important person in your child’s life. They will love to share with you all the new things that they do. Enjoy every moment. It rushes past all too soon.
For more information on Semely School click here