Starting out at Primary School

I published this post this time last year, but thought it might be worth re-publishing again given it’s almost that time of year again. Somehow Harps will be in year 2! Daisy in year 5? Thank GOODNESS Mags is a few years off yet still. Do you have a little one starting? Original post follows….

Wait, what? Didn’t you just bring them home from the hospital and now apparently they are big enough to go to School? Say what?

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But it’s true this time next week for lots of us there will be new Kinders starting School and for lots of you that means some really big changes. Emotionally, mentally, physically it’s a HUGE change for a family but it’s also one of the most exciting. You won’t see a change in a kid more than the first year of their life than you will once they start “big School”.

Harper started last year off an anxious little girl who was more than ready for school, but besides writing her name and doing a mean painting, that was about it. She finished last year almost reading to the level of her older sister. A well behaved, confident and happy girl who loves getting to school every day, learning so much and taking on all the different social parts of school too. It’s a big year. You’ve got this. You both do.

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So what are some of my tips for surviving the first year of School? I’ve got some, they might not be perfect, but they are what has worked for our family in our little small Public School.

REST NOW

Sure, there’s only a week left of holidays (for some of us at least) but if you can spend plenty of time shilling at home doing all those things you love to do. Go for milkshakes, do puzzles, do drawing, watch movies, spend your time in PJ’s, like before you had your baby when everyone told you to rest? Rest! And soak up their littleness before they grow, it happens too quickly!

GOT AN ANXIOUS KID? ME TOO!

I had one of those kids that you see being peeled from their daycare and preschool teachers each and every time at drop off. I was the Mum that sat in the car sobbing because WHEN WILL IT GET EASIER? I get it, I really do. Here, let’s pat each others backs. And as one of those Mum’s you will already be overthinking drop off, and tears, and anxiety already. Am I right or am I right? I can tell you that it will be OK and then maybe not OK but then OK. And then really OK. It’s just one of those things that you have to grit your teeth and get through (so many of these in parenting aren’t there?). We started off with flying colours and then after that first weekend and Monday came around again? Yes, no thank you I’m done with School thanks. And after term 1 with Daisy? Yes, no, I’ve done school now. Thanks I’ll skip to University. It’s hard. Plain and simple. But remember that you aren’t alone either. Be confident and reassuring. Maybe hand the drop off’s over to someone less emotionally tied to it all as you (if you can). It might take a few weeks, or a few terms, but you will get there. I swear to you. Talk to the teacher about how YOU are feeling, and about how THEY are feeling. Talk it out, talk it out, talk it out. The more you can identify all the big things they are feeling: scared, nerves, anxiety about toilets, bigger kids, not knowing how to open a lunchbox or undo your School bag the more you can overcome all of those things. Talk to them about how you are feeling and be kind and patient with each other. It will get better. I’m telling you, and I would not lie about this shit. Promise.

GET ORGANISED

You are about to be bombarded with paper. So many notes. Newsletters. Things that need to be signed and returned. Homework. Readers. STUFF. All of the stuff. For me I have a dedicated school section/bench/sideboard in the kitchen that houses School stuff (home work folders, readers, notes etc) so if something needs to be done I can look there. As soon as we get in the door from School I empty that School bag of lunch boxes, drink bottles and notes and action immediately. I sign and return money straight away ready to take back tomorrow. My girls can get anxious when teachers remind them about notes asking kids to make sure they have returned x, y or z but knowing that I do them straight away, every time, reassures them that our system means they have been returned every time. It’s a pain, but it’s done. I also file the notes into the back of the diary after they have been sent. Inevitably each note will have details about what to bring etc for a particular day or pick up times, this way I write the details in our family diary (old school week to a page that sits on the bench) and then the note is at the back if I need to check if there will be canteen etc on the day. Does that make sense? Tackle quickly and efficiently! I would also write in your diary, or on a timetable on the wall all the things that happen on each day so you can make a checklist before you leave. Get your little one involved so they can start take some responsibility for what they need: something that the teacher will expect from them. Monday? Check you have your hat, in normal uniform and have your books for library. Tuesday? Hat, sports uniform and money for ice blocks. After a while you will all get into the routine, but to start, a chart or somewhere written down helps.

SHUT DOWN ANY AFTER SCHOOL STUFF

For me, this was just a no brainer with both kids. Especially in term 1. The kids are TIRED. As in TIRED. Melt downs a go-g0, they do not need to be doing any extra circular stuff straight up, they need to come home and chill OUT. Play again. Do the things they used to love to do, to feel safe and comfortable after all that change. I don’t allow playdates much to my kids disgust (for the first term at least) they play enough together at school is what I reckon, and their new friends don’t need to be seeing any meltdowns from them at home (we had a doozy once I am still twitching my left eye over and it was about 4 years ago now). There’s plenty of time for all that stuff….later.

GET TO BED EARLY

If there is one thing I am consistent about, it’s getting the kids to bed early. Every night. My friends roll their eyes at me about it, but I just works for us. I roughly use this guide from a few years ago (except now bedtime is usually 7.30pm not 6.30pm). Kinders are TIRED and hungry. In those first few weeks I would roll at 4.30pm dinner! And I would feed that hungry kinder some of the dinner stuff they wouldn’t likely too eat then – so think cut up cucumbers and veggies, tomatoes and Hummus that they will smash when hungry straight after school and then a little while after the rest of dinner. Filling up on arvo tea stuff when you are trying to get them to bed early just never works for me so we have almost like a mini dinner early around 4.30pm, get bath and pj’s on so you are chilling out by 6pm reading and doing quiet things. If you are hungry again then you can always have some more fruit or yoghurt. I think an early bed time just makes for a better nights sleep for everyone. If you start off at 6.30pm and there are shenanigans for an hour or so the end point of that is earlier than it would be if you started at 8pm right?

DON’T STRESS

If you are a control freak, like, um, me you will want to make sure you are doing everything right. You’re both learning and working it out, and you’ll make mistakes. You’ll forget books for library one day, or wear the wrong uniform, it’s OK. Everyone makes mistakes to start, and it all doesn’t matter in the end. You’ve got this. You both do.

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There’s probably a gazillion other things to think about, but that’s my brain dump for the moment. Try and enjoy the moment. It’s a big deal, and you should allow yourself to be in that bigness. So far that little baby has been taught and guided by you. You’ve taught them everything they need to know and now is the time for you to let them go a little. Hand them over to those wonderful teachers to do the big stuff. The letting go is always hard, but you make sure you stop and think about ALL you have done to get them here. Well bloody done my friend!

Bob Dylan says it best I reckon in his beautiful song Forever Young.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Good luck friends, with everything. At the end of this year you will be amazed at these little kids that turn out to be determined, smart, funny, confident, a sponge ready to take on the world. You will not believe what they can do in a year.

You’ve got this, you both do.

So tell me, what have I missed?
Got some good tips to pass on to those first timers?
Hit us up!

Comments

  1. This advice is SO spot on! I wish I’d caught this before my son started his first year last year! I did learn all of these things, though – luckily – and I will definitely approach the second year this way! xo

  2. Great advice! I was on the other end as the teacher accepting all these gorgeous little people who are so ready to go to big school. Please please please send them to school with a lunchbox and drink bottle they can open independently, and NAME their belongings with writing big enough so that they can recognise if it’s theirs. Oh and send a spare uniform and undies if you can. Accidents do happen! This is such an exciting time for us all.

  3. Whitney Sigler says

    We have 4 of the grandchildren in school. Where here in the USA they terms are different. #dumbreally Start in late Aug. Then out in late May. #holidaybreaksonlythruyear
    Alizah 3rd
    Joshua 1st
    Peyton 2nd
    Ellie PreK
    Ollivander haha he’s only 7 weeks

    They all love school, and they all have routines. Home snack,homework, free time, dinner,bath, extra reading..then bedtime 7:35pm. They are all ready for bed then. Its funny if they are off somewhere they are ready to go by 7. Built in clocks.

  4. My youngest is about to start High School & some of the same stuff applies; be organised, calm, understand the system, label everything, expect exhaustion. My tip with starting preschool & then primary school is to do a list that goes on the fridge or notice board where the child can see it. Ours said “Are you ready for school?” Then listed breakfast, shower, dressed, hair brushed, bed made, room tidy, bag packed (with a sub list lunch, drink, bottle, reader, library book, homework, recorder) sunscreen. I added pictures when it was for pre reading stage. Helped me when I was wrangling 4 kids including breast feeding etc. my 21 year old can still recite the list!! Thanks for good advice & a reminder Beth. ?

  5. I have read, and loved, many of your posts, Beth, but truly think this is one of your best. My eldest (of 4 little people) is about to start Year 2, and I teared up reading this when you posted it last year (and maybe did again then). The memories of those first few months at school – SO STRONG! Kindly do not share again next year when my Little Girl starts school. The ugly cry will be one for the ages 😉

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