Starting Reception can be a big deal, for parents as well as the children! As my eldest comes to the end of her first year at school, here are my top five tips for starting school…

1. Be prepared for tiredness

School is exhausting. All children are different, but the constant mental stimulation and busy environment exhausts almost every child – even those that are used to full time nursery.

Be prepared for tantrums. Be prepared for grumps. Even be prepared for things like bedwetting to return sometimes.

We did our best to combat the tiredness by having consistent early bedtimes, moving extra-curricular activities to weekends, and not going overboard on play dates after school.

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2. Feed, feed, feed!

Second only to exhaustion, is hunger. Wow, I’ve never seen more food packed away between 3.00pm and bedtime! Children often do not eat much at school as they get used to eating school dinners in a busy dining room – but the calories have got to come from somewhere!

I try to power up my daughter with a high-protein breakfast (we serve eggs), meet her with a substantial snack at the classroom door and then give a nutritious dinner that I know she would eat.

It is still hard to figure out what exactly she consumes from her school lunch, but I think her school diet is 80% cucumber and 20% yoghurt! So, everything I can feed her at home is important.

(As a side note she is much better at trying new foods since starting school, hurrah for school lunches!)

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3. Shop second hand

If exhaustion is number one, and hunger is number two, then dirt is number three! Be prepared for your child to have an AMAZING time at school and come home with dirty uniform on a daily basis!

To save mid-week washing drama, I have enough uniform for a clean set every day. This makes my life much less stressful and I know my daughter is going in fresh and comfortable each day. I shop second hand as much as possible – our school has great sales with good value, quality pre-loved uniform. We are lucky to also be able to buy uniform from any shop, and the supermarkets have great deals.

The worst stain we have on a regular basis is whiteboard pen, and my top tip for this is to apply hand sanitiser to the stain before you wash – it works a treat!

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4. Don’t make the first day a big deal

We received some great advice from our school to, quite simply, not big it up. Try not to constantly talk about ‘going to big school’ as if it’s a some monumental occasion. Make the first day as simple as possible. Plan ahead so you aren’t rushing in the morning. Leave other siblings with someone else if you can.

I also took photographs that I wanted to capture on the settling in day rather than the first ‘proper’ day at school. This really helped to take the pressure off both me and my daughter on that first morning. You could also come along to one of my school photo mini photography sessions to capture a natural outdoor photograph of your child as they start school, without the stress of having to take it yourself!

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5. Volunteer

As a general rule in life, I find that the more you put in, the more you get out. School is no exception, and volunteering in my daughter’s class has made starting school a much more enriching experience for both of us.

I find I’m much more informed about what is going on through my one-hour snippets of volunteering time, and this really helps me to reinforce school learning at home. I have organised reading books, read with the children, laminated and cut out teaching resources, photographed sports day and volunteered on school trips. Schools really need the help and I’ve loved every minute.

All you need is a DBS check and a spare hour. Teachers really appreciate it, and so do your kids.

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Good luck to you and your children starting Reception this year, I hope with these tips will be a smooth experience!

If you’ve already got a child at school, what tips can you share in the comments below?

BACK TO SCHOOL

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