It has been 7-weeks since my son started primary school and we have already reached our first half-term break.
So far, school life has been everything I expected and everything I unexpected.
I think we have come on tremendously since we took our first nervous walk to the school gates together at the beginning of September.
Hand in hand, we followed the sea of other parents heading towards the school gates.
We were unsure as to whether we had to drop him off in the playground, or escort him to his classroom.
We did not know how to get to his classroom from the playground.
Then there are all the questions that exposed us as complete novices.
Would he need a PE kit on his first day?
What did I need to put in his new Batman backpack?
Who do we pay for his school lunches?
Now we have completed half a term, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on everything we have learnt.
Your child will not need a PE kit on his/her first day. However, when a change into gym wear is required, they will be expected to dress and undress themselves into it. Sometimes, they may return home with tops on inside out, back to front, or belonging to someone else.
Label everything. This not only helps you to return stray items of clothing back to their intended recipient, but also means you are less likely to have to rummage through the lost property box on the last day of term.
Whatever the teacher says goes. You may be hoarse from constantly reminding your child to say please and thank you, or to sit nicely on their chair at the table, but one word from the teacher and it becomes gospel. You can use this to your advantage in various negotiations with your 4-year old at mealtimes, bathtime and bedtime.
School is EXHAUSTING. After a full day of concentrating and being well-behaved, your child will need to let off some steam at home. Sometimes they will nap on the sofa at 4.30pm, resulting in a bedtime meltdown because they are not tired at 7pm. The alternative to this is when they do not nap in the afternoon, and have a meltdown from 3.30pm until bedtime because they are so over tired. In these early days, TV is your friend.
The school sends a lot of letters home. These may contain important information about a home project that needs to be submitted the following week, or be in the form of a weekly newsletter with dates for your diary. It is important to read, action and file every single letter immediately, or you may find yourself dedicating an entire Sunday evening to catching up on school admin, when you would really prefer to be drinking red wine and watching The X Factor instead *coughs*
Look inside the book bag. There may be more letters in there. Or missing socks. As well as the books you need to practice reading with your child and the report card on which to record your child’s progress. Oh yes, you have homework too.
Nobody cares how you are dressed. I worried unnecessarily about what to wear for my first outing on the school gate mum circuit. For the first week, all my clothes were carefully selected in advance and freshly pressed. My hair was brushed, ironed and make-up was applied. Now, I am lucky if I get a shower in before the school run.
Don’t expect too much feedback. There are 30 children, plus parents, all vying for the attention of one teacher. She does not have time to reassure you that your child has been well-behaved, eaten all of his lunch, and had no mishaps on the way to the loo. Similarly, your child will respond to all requests for information about his day with a shrug or a grunt. This is why parents evenings were invented (probably).
Leave the Batman backpack at home. There is nothing you need to put in it.
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