Here we are approaching the end of reception year at school and guess what… We survived! But for every mummy patting herself on the back for a job reasonably well done (well they don’t have to be on time EVERY day, do they???) there is another one bracing herself to take the plunge. So I have put together a Bear Grylls style survival guide to help those with pre-first year jitters get through it.
1. Stock up on vitamins…
I learned this one too late. Whereas parents of preschool children would keep a sick child at home the fearsome rules surrounding school absences have made our kids’ head teachers and attendance officers even scarier than they were “in our day”. All too often this year I have heard the phrase “if they are that ill the teacher will send them home”. This is true, but sadly not before your pooey, sickie, rashy child has spread their germs all round the classroom. Each time I have been told so and so got sick in class I know what is coming next. The following week my eldest has her head in a bucket, followed by my youngest, followed inevitably by my good self! And what happens when my child gets sick, has a temperature or has tonsilitis and is only capable of sleep? I keep her off (obviously) and then get really nasty letters home about her absences. So my first piece of advice is a lesson learned the hard way – get those immune systems toughened up or face the consequences!
2. Invite friends over early on
When September kicked off my first fortnight was spent listening to regularly repeated names which were then invited over for a playdate with a princess doll cake, dressing up and football. Friendship was established and while some drifted off into their own new cliques others have remained steadfast – either way my little girl’s first month ended with friends having been made and I ended her first month assured that she did not sit in the playground alone.
3. Learn the teachers names!
We have been through three teachers this year and nothing gets me moaned at more than getting the teachers name wrong (in fairness she now has two part time teachers and nobody has told me which days each of them work so how am I supposed to know who said what and when???)
4. Accept your child is growing up… Too fast
I have listened to my daughters friends saying “Bye mum” and “Mum where is my lunch box?” and it occurred to me only this morning that I may have limited “mummy” time left before I too am shortened to the lesser cute moniker of “mum”. It clawed at my stomach but I know it is coming. It is just a matter of when.
5. THERE WILL BE SCHOOL TRIPS!!!
Yes, your baby is going to be going places without you, sometimes on big scary coaches and miles away. Repeat after me… He/she WILL be fine. I SUSPECT, given my current tailspin about this one, that this particular fear is ongoing, at least while they are small enough that you still expect them to hold your hand (after all they aren’t taking 70 adults along on the trip with 140 kids so there will definitely not be enough hands available!) but remember your munchkin is undoubtedly nervous too and the first time has to happen some time so it might as well be <gulp!> in two weeks’ time…
6. Not every child is a genius
That’s right, I am talking to you. Your child will get their letters back to front and upside down, they will add together 4 and 5 and get seven and when they pick up a recorder it will sound… Well, horrendous, obviously (though I suspect even a musical genius couldn’t make that particular instrument sound good). That is fine, just be happy with sociable, happy, well adapted and on target for this year. We can work on the genius bit later (or if that fails there is always the second child to fall back on!).
7. Prepare for attitude
It is inevitable they will meet someone with a big mouth inherited from their gobby mother or father and they will undoubtedly try similar lip on you to see how it goes down at home. Rise above it. The rules of combat are the same throughout – terrible two, thoroughly-horrible three, fearsome four. Whatever has worked in the past will work now… Eventually. Just remember more is more. More time out. More trips to the naughty step. More sitting down and explaining why it is unacceptable behaviour and, thanks to their new school child status, more understanding of why it is unacceptable as well. Hopefully this stage seems to be the shortest lived (don’t quote me on that just yet, it is early days still!) and rarely involves children rolling around on the floor screaming so us veterans of the terrifying toddler years will find this bit a doddle!
So that is my survival guide for now but anyone who wants to add their invaluable advice is more than welcome to… After all, we are all learning on the job!