So all the name tags have been painstakingly stitched in, hems turned up (thank you Wonderweb!), impossibly tiny little black pumps are in the pump bag along with the rest of the PE kit, and the cupboards are stocked ready for a week of packed lunches Jamie Oliver would be proud of. So why do you just not feel READY for this?
Watching your child go off to 'big school' is a massive milestone in both your lives. No matter how much you thought a couple of mornings at playgroup would be ample preparation, no matter how you were looking forward to a bit of 'me' time, the day dawns with trepidation. And that little ball of confidence you gave birth to is suddenly ominously quiet.
Firstly, the way you feel will impact on your child's emotions. If you approach the first day showing confidence that they'll be fine and being positive about this next phase in their life and their anxieties will be reduced. Remember, you are far more practiced in covering your true emotions than they are and you may just have to call on these skills to ensure they leave feeling as confident as possible.
The night before their first day, let your child help in getting their lunchbox prepared and laying out their uniform, but keep the rest of their routine as normal as possible. If they're full of questions you think you've already answered a dozen times, they may have fears you haven't considered. Things that seem obvious to an adult can seem like a terrible problem to a five year old. Ask them what they think school may be like, and they may reveal something that surprises you. Close any conversation by highlighting the things they will like most about school.
Chances are the school has talked you through the school drop off routine. In most schools for the first few days, parents are welcomed into the classroom, gradually moving to the playground and ultimately being relegated to the school gates! Saying goodbye on that first day may be hard for you, but send them off with a smile and the security of knowing you'll be there waiting for them at the end of the day. If children get distressed, teachers have the experience and training to deal with it, and it is infinitely easier for them without a hovering parent! Chances are at pick up time you'll be told they settled the minute you left!
So, once you've spent the day wandering around aimlessly, worrying yourself stupid and crying at the drop of a hat, it’s time to pick them up. Now I know I may be stating the obvious, but DO NOT BE LATE! Apart from the momentary panic this will cause both child and teacher, you will never ever forgive yourself!
Each child is obviously different; yours may come out bubbling over and desperate to give you chapter and verse of the day’s events. For the most part though, even if your child has started on 'short' days, they will emerge tired and probably hungry. Don't press them for information, but be all ears if they want to talk. Have a healthy snack to hand, and don't overdo the cuddles; you don't want to give them the impression that they've just survived some terrible ordeal (even if you just have!)
So, that's day one done. Wouldn't it be nice if it were all plain sailing from here. Unfortunately, realisation will dawn on your child in the next week or so that they have to do this every day?! That wasn't in their plans! Make sure they know that weekends will be fun, family times and make sure they are. And in a few weeks you might actually start to enjoy that 'me' time.