starting school

13 things parents need to know about children starting school

I now have two children in school with two more starting nursery this year so I have been a reception mum twice and tearfully watched my lovely littles head into school for the first time whilst simultaneously doing an internal happy dance.  Your child starting school is like a smorgasbord of conflicting emotions and mum guilt!!


A child starting school can be scary for us as well as them.  Someone told me just the other day that they were already concerned about it and their child was 2! I know I was nervous on their first day, but fortunately they both love school and we have never had any tears at the school lines they run in happily excited to see what the day offers – phew!  However, there are some things I was not aware of before they were starting school so here is my inside scoop!

starting school

  1. They will make friends and children will talk to them.  Some children seem to take longer to make this happen, but they aren’t just left standing alone.  A lot of time and effort is devoted to getting them to make connections and friendships
  2. They will need to be quite independent.  The teachers are there to help and support them, but they are not magicians and cannot get 30 littles dressed after PE so I would focus on teaching them key skills like going to the loo alone and getting dressed by themselves prior to their start date
  3. Just because they can do it at school they won’t necessarily be able (willing) to do it at home.  I have spent much of this year putting on my son’s socks each morning although I know he can do it and does do it at school.  He is insistent that he needs me to do it and think maybe it is just him wanting to be mothered a bit.  He is only 5 so I let him off, but if he is still asking when he is 20 I will have words!!
  4. They won’t starve if they don’t eat all their school lunch – they might be grumpy when they come out of school though!  I have found that their eating has been improved by school dinners in many ways
  5. Following on from that the after school snack is of vital importance.  Do not underestimate the importance of this….  Especially in the first term.  They will be tired and very hangry!!  Feed them – quickly and preferably with something that will give an energy boost
  6. Reading with your child as they learn phonics is nothing short of torturous.  You will undoubtedly, at some point, wonder what you did so wrong to deserve such a punishment.  It is a slow process for most and a frustrating one for the grown up and the little.  They will get there and you will eventually be able to kiss goodbye to Chip, Biff, Kipper and their infernal magic key
  7. There will be fun off curriculum days and events organised by the school and many of these will involve you trying to come up with a costume idea or completing a project at the last minute.  This won’t always be because the school didn’t tell you in plenty of time, but instead because you didn’t read the newsletter or parent mail
  8. Your lovely little will announce at 8:30am that today is show and tell and the theme is octagons and they simply have to bring in something octagonal
  9. Parentmail – is a godsend and a pain in the bum all at the same time.  If your school don’t use it and you still get paper communications this is more annoying as remembering to bring that slip back in on the right day can be as tough as splitting the atom.
  10. Top tip coming now – set up a Whats App group for the mum’s in your year.  Not only will this make it way easier to organise drinks which is clearly very important, but it will also help you all to remind one another to bring in that damn slip of paper!
  11. That school uniform that you spent a small fortune on and lovingly sewed name labels into (stuck in the stickered ones if you are me!) will look like rags by the end of the year, or won’t fit them or will be lost!!  I don’t mean to be negative, but honestly don’t get too attached to it.  I can’t tell you the heartache I have had over lost school caps – 5 this term!!!!!
  12. They will grow up loads in that first year at school which is both amazing and a little sad
  13. Hopefully you will meet a great crowd of mummy friends at the school, but it is like any other environment and there will be some people you get on with better than others.  I always think though at least you have one thing in common so that’s a great place to start. Another great place to start is find out who likes a good drink and make friends with them!!  Obvs. if you don’t drink that probably won’t be of any use, but still it helped me….

Now I am off to enjoy a break from the school run and have fun with these littles without any pressure for a good 6 weeks.  I can’t wait and neither can they.

For further schools advice for your little check out a guest post from my sons aged 5 and 7:

starting schools

41 thoughts on “13 things parents need to know about children starting school”

  1. Great tips, Kirsty. And, since I’m into food, including health and nutrition, I’d suggest protein for #5. Things like nuts, raw vegetables with hummus dip, bean burritos. Re #11: I wish schools in the U.S. had uniforms!

    1. Protein is always on my list too. It makes such a difference to their mood and gives that instant boost. Thanks for commenting and for being on the #DreamTeam this week

  2. Definitely the after school snacks. My daughter is always ‘starving’ as soon as she comes out so i go prepared. We Had lots of tears and tantrums when she started and shes still like it towards the end of term

  3. Things have seriously changed since I was at school. there’s a lot more to worry about now! I feel sorry for the poor parents that have to navigate through this mindfield.


  4. Great post and all spot on! Im a recpetion teacher and i have written a post from my perspective As a teacher.
    I like the start a whatsapp group and i laughed at the ‘show and tell’ one as most parents haTe show andtell. Ill tell you a secret…teachers hate it too!! #dreamteam

  5. There are some great tips here. My kids are now a lot older but reading with them is still importan. I love parentmail and a mum’s whatsapp group is a lifesaver! #dreamteam

    1. Thanks. I am currently trying to bribe my 5 year old to read with me. He is not keen thanks for being on the #DreamTeam this week

  6. It has been a loooong time since my kids started school, but your advice is great. I read to my kids all the time, and I now do the same with my grandchildren.

  7. This is so lOvely. And brilliant advice too. The uniform one cracked me up. 5 lost caps?? We’ve Just had a lost cardigan, thank goodness. The school branded uniform is pretty expensive to keep replacing. Thanks For being a brilliant host on the #dreamteam xx

  8. Brilliant tips! I am still a few years away from school, but I know it will sneak up on me in no time! I am both thrilled and dreading it. I just know she’ll do great!
    Thanks for sharing at #DreamTeam

  9. Really helpful post that will support so many parents. my children are out of school now educated at home but I remember the school days well and your tips are brilliant. I never quite mastered making mummy friends in the yard though! #DreamTeam

  10. Hey Kristy! This is a great list. My little’s often eat there lunch as their after school snack. Whattayagonnado? At least they eat.Happy end of summer, and best of luck in the school year, for us all! #dreamteam xoxo

  11. Some good points here – I literally hate ParentMail – way too many hoops to jump through to read the messages, and I enjoy Apps and Technology! (It could be just my school)

    I do like the WhatsApp group idea, although on behalf of the dad’s doing the school runs – could you include us too? A ‘Parent’ group? We’re still a bit sidelined and under represented – and could do with just as much support! Thanks!

    (For those fearing the worst, we’re there to pick up the kids, not you!)

    1. In my sons classes the dads have their own what’s app group, but of course you are right we should really have a general one

  12. No doubt, splendid tips and all so evident. You know, My girl is continually starving when she turns out so the question goes arranged. We Had bunches of tears and fits when she began shes still like it towards the finish of the term. Kirsty, thanks a bunch for sharing this article with us.

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