It is so hard to believe that this September Mini will be starting senior school and my years as a primary school parent are over. It is even harder to think that I have been navigating the first day of school since 2008 when Maxi started pre-school. So that is nine years of first days at school. Eight of them at Primary and one year of Seniors for Maxi.
This year we are working with Marks and Spencer on their “Trust Me, I’m a Teacher” campaign. Marks and Spencer have asked a group of teachers to share some funny, sweet and interesting anecdotes of what really happens when parents leave their kids at the front gate. So to counter that I am going to share it from a parents point of view.
I would love to say that so many first days at school me an expert but every child is different, however, I can share with you what worked for me and my children.
The very first day at school
There is always a temptation to make the very first day at school a big deal, but I think that puts a lot of pressure on you and on your child. We did a test run a couple of time before the day. Seeing how long it took to get dressed, have breakfast and walk to school. It makes that first day so much less fraught.
Put everything you need out the night before, uniform, shoes, school bag, coat and make sure your phone or camera is charged. Allow an extra 5 minutes to take a couple of photographs. When mine were small they didn’t stand still for a minute so I had to grab them on the go.
Make plans for the first morning they are at school. Arrange to go for a coffee with friends or family. it is more nerve wracking for you that the children!
This was the key time for me and one that I wish I was more prepared for. My children were always starving and thirsty when they got out of school and also they were full of energy until they crashed! So I would take a snack and drink with me and then go to the park for 15-20 minutes before heading home. Be prepared for the fact that they are not going to be able to tell you what they have been doing.
Also, do not over schedule for the first couple of weeks. I also allowed more TV time that I would usually as it is hard to acclimatise.
The Primary Years
The first day at school really does get easier as the children get older, but I do have a few tips to make it smoother and easier for all involved.
Shoes – I do not know about your children, but my kids’ feet seem to grow as soon as I get the new shoes, so I leave buying them until the last week of the holidays and then get them to wear them for an hour each evening to wear them in.
Help them acclimatise by moving bedtime to nearer school time the week before.
Set expectations – As the boys have got older I expect them to have more responsibility so we created checklists and bag lists for at home.
Going to Senior School was a big step up for Maxi last year. He had to take on so much more responsibility and it is a completely different experience that primary. Both of my boys have to get a bus to senior school, so there is no way that I am available to drop off anything that they have forgotten to take with them. It can be scary getting to and from Senior school, so it might help to make a few trips as a family to work out the route. My boys have an emergency fund in case they miss the bus and we have other contingencies in place.
They are expected to be much more independent at school, but that takes practice and they really do need reminding. Their bodies are often going through puberty to so they become forgetful and less able to plan for things. Managing the transition to senior school is all about managing a massive change. So try and keep in mind that it can be exhausting for them.
Keep a copy of their timetable and double check that homework is done and they are prepared. Be aware that they will remember they have food tech tomorrow and need olives, cheese and other none cupboard items as you put them to bed. Try not to get angry about it, it happens to the best of us!
The boys also have a top tip for you, well it is more of a begging request – Please do not buy a blazer that is way to big!
Always Take a Photograph
One of the best things about having a blog is the fact that I have a record of each and every first day of school. It is wonderful to see how they have grown and changed. I also make a note of their favorite things as of that September.
It is great to see just how much they have changed but also stayed the same over the years. They both love looking back at the images.
Just looking at these images makes me all emotional!
I can not believe that come September I will have two children in senior school. It really does feel like yesterday I was dropping Maxi at the school door.
Disclosure: This is a paid post in collaboration with Marks & Spencer #TrustMeImATeacher
What a great, useful post and so amazing to see how the boys have grown up! I can’t believe it.
My son started secondary school last year and it was a very big change. Now my kids are 15 and 12 – those pics and memories are so important to have.
Jen this is such a lovely post. Look at your gorgeous boys!!
I wish I had these tips a year ago. Such special memories xx
Wow, some of those photos take me back Jen. I first found you blog in 2008/9 so they are a blast form the past and I always loved how you added what the blogs liked to their school images. Thanks for sharing all these fab tips. Mich x
Oh I love your idea of taking a photo and surrounding it with a few words that describes who they are at that moment in time. What a keepsake!
Great tips for going back to school and starting school. It’s always worth picking up tips even after this time x
Ahem. I got the wrong pick up time for my son on his first day of school so I am probably a terrible mum. Hoping not to repeat that one with my daughter!
Great post, I’m especially in agreement with the ‘keep yourself busy’ bit as it is worse for you than the kids when they’re in little school. My little lady starts year 1 this September and already I know how much more pressure they’ll be under even at the age of 6! So I’ll be keeping our routine a bit slacker for the first week or so and easing her in as best I can.