Preparing to start school

The start of school can be an anxious but exciting time for both parents and children. Preparation for what to expect can help the whole family to ease any first day nerves. Below are are a few top tips from our members to get you started.

Children soon settle in to their new surroundings, but for parents it can take a little more time. Getting to know the school is a great way to start. Whether through the PTA, as a member of the Parent Council, or through ad-hoc volunteering, there are lots of ways for parents to get involved with the school.

Here are six of the best top tips for starting reception from some of PTA UK's members:

  1. Prepare your child in advance – Whether it’s reading a book about starting school, wearing their new uniform around the house or shopping trips for new equipment – take time to talk about and get your child excited about starting school.
  2. Familiarise and socialise – Do what you can to familiarise your child with the school as much as possible before they start. Play dates with soon-to-be class mates is also a great way of warming them up for September!
  3. Label everything – However you choose to label the uniform, make sure you include a label in everything – the ones with the pictures are great for children that can’t read their name! And stock up on some spare uniform – reception class can be a messy time!
  4. Be positive and calm – Children pick up on anxiety, so if you seem worried then they’ll know, and may even wonder if they should worry too. The start of school is an emotional time, but so often the children are ready to start the next chapter so go off without a backward glance and without a long farewell.
  5. They are going to be tired! – The first year at school is such a change for them so prepare yourself for meltdowns – they are completely normal! Help by making sure they get as much good quality food and sleep as possible to keep their energy levels up!
  6. Get involved in School life – Getting involved in the PTA is a great way to help you get to know the school and be a part of your child’s school life. Attend any meetings you can, and you’ll come to be part of a friendly group of parents who know the school well and are able to offer advice and information. Don't be afraid to ask: in the near future you'll be able to return the favour to the new starter parents coming up behind you! 

Have you any other top tips we should be adding to this list? Please email us if you do; we'd love to hear from you.

Be School Ready

Aware that parents can find starting school life a little daunting, we developed a 'Be School Ready' welcome magazine which was distributed to 100,000 parents of reception-aged children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland via 1,667 of our member PTAs. If you didn't receive the pack, don't worry, there are plenty of resources on our Be School Ready page, and we'll be adding more in the coming months to make sure you're ready and supported when term-time begins in September.

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