Got a child starting reception year at school this September?
We bet you’ve spent all summer making sure you’ve got the right uniform and name labels, worrying about how your baby will cope with school - but have you thought about how you’ll cope?
Blogger Vicky Charles, who writes Single Mother Ahoy (opens in new tab), reveals how she got though it - and what you should know before the big day arrives:
My daughter is going into year 2 this September, but I still shiver whenever I think of how woefully unprepared I was for reception year. She was fine within a week, but it took me a lot longer to get used to my new role as a school mum. Here are a few tips to help you survive your first term as a school mum:
Prepare your inane small talk in advance. Good summer? What did you do at the weekend? How is little Johnny settling in? What are you up to this weekend? I wish I could give you a clever tip for remembering all the names but two years in, I’m still not 100% sure of some of the mums’ names - or which child they belong to!
Prepare to be forced into awkward conversations - with parents you don’t know, and don’t want to know. Your child will make friends with, and invite over for tea, half the class. (of course, this has never happened to me; I loved all of the children and parents in my daughter’s reception class)
Get to a supermarket, and buy cheap uniform spares. More than you think you need. Reception year is really exciting for kids; so exciting they forget to go to the toilet until it’s too late. My daughter managed either a toilet accident or a paint accident every single day of her first term. My washing machine was on constantly!
Just accept that from now on, you will know nothing about what your child has done during their day - unless they’ve done something bad enough that you get called into the classroom! Discussions will mostly include a lot of I don’t know or I don’t remember. Or silence. When we were at nursery we’d get a feedback sheet every session, or her keyworker would tell me what she’d done. Even the best reception teacher in the world doesn’t have time for those shenanigans so us parents just have to guess.
The only way you’ll know what they ate for dinner is from checking the stains on their uniform (see point above - I said you’d need spares!) They might have wolfed down the whole plate and had seconds; they might have just picked some of it up and smeared it on their shirt. Our school gives out a menu at the beginning of term, and even when I read out the items and ask did you like the fajitas today I still get nothing.
You will have to get involved in endless activities. Stay and play. Story time. Activity weeks where they want parents to come and talk about their work, their childhood, next door’s dog. Class trips to the park. I remember helping on a trip and they put me in charge of four kids - and none of them was my one! It was terrifying but I managed not to lose or maim any of them.
You’ve been saying the alphabet wrong. Your. Entire. Life. When they start learning phonics they’ll come home making odd sounds that are the new way of saying letters. Example? It’s not P; it’s not puh; it’s p like the sound in the middle of the word spit. The teacher actually told all of the parents this one in a group meeting so that we wouldn’t confuse our children with our incorrect pronunciation.
There are two types of school mum: those who watch their kids, and those who don’t. Older children are usually excited to be back at school in September, and lots of them run riot while their mums catch up with their playground mates. Keep an eye out for footballs flying at your small person’s head. But don’t, whatever you do, have a go at the mother. September is way too early to start a playground feud. Or so I’ve heard…
I’ve made it sound a bit horrific haven’t I - but honestly, within a term or so everything settles down. Once you get past the small talk stage, you might even find you’ve made some firm friends among the other nervous reception mums. That said, I think things like what did you do today and what did you have for lunch may remain secret forever.