Before your child even gets to school one of the most helpful things you could do is label all their school uniform down to even socks (NB in Private School it’s compulsory). This way if it does end up being lost, once it has been located it’s very straightforward to identify the owner if it’s named. I know this is a pain; it can also save a lot of money if things get lost and there’s a conflict about ownership if something isn’t named. Plus, if you buy the iron-on labels it’s far more straightforward. A tip for parents with children of the same gender who are likely to pass uniforms down from older to younger children; unless your surname is really common, just label with the surname, because then you’re not re-labelling when the younger child starts school. With more common surnames, put the first initial of all children who the item will be passed down to (let the teacher know you have done this) then it’s unmistakable who the garment belongs too.
For anyone who’s talented at sewing it’s worth considering that this is a “pain” all parents with children starting school have to endure. If you like sewing start a little business going and charge a small fee for doing the labelling for parents; I know a lot of parents who would pay for that!
One thing that’s easy for parents to forget when they’re enthusiastically asking their children about their first day at school is that young children will be tired – even the older ones – and they may not feel very talkative. They also may not remember and this is totally normal, it doesn’t mean they have a poor memory! Also, bear in mind that if you’re child only seems to recall playtime and who they played with; this doesn’t mean they’re struggling academically. Their subconscious mind will be processing the new information. For them, “playtime is like “downtime” and they are more relaxed and less focused during this part of the day, therefore it’s no surprise that this will be the easiest part for them to recall. Plus, if you have a child who’s an introvert (they get their energy from within), after spending a whole day with other people they may just want to retreat and say nothing. This is perfectly normal and it’s right to respect their need for space. I’m more introverted so I can relate to this.
I really want to put your mind at ease when it comes to all the things that parents whose child/children have just started school could potentially worry about! First I’ll put forward a list of potential worries; then I will put your mind at ease about every single one of them. If I don’t completely manage to take all your worries away, I will put my e-mail address at the bottom so you can get in touch.
Okay, let’s start with potential worries: 1) Continuous worry about how well your child is doing academically. 2) This can stem from “potential worry number one”; being caught up in parental competitiveness at drop off and pick-up. 3) Being overly concerned that your child isn’t getting enough of the teacher’s attention and forgetting she has other pupils to look after. 4) Becoming overly concerned about friendship fallouts. These are the main potential worries that I hear a lot of parents talk about. If you do have other unrelated worries, please do get in touch as I’m sure I can put your mind at ease about them too!
The Solutions: 1) It’s human nature that your child will be really good at some things, fairly good at others and not so good at a few things too – so please allow them to be human. Parents can find themselves using a lot of energy worry about what reading level their child is on, how well their maths skills are progressing and how neat their writing is becoming. What I would say to you is; please allow your child to learn at their own pace. They are going to do better if allowed them to progress at their own speed. Both my Montessori training and Photo-reading course put forward that children and people in general learn more effectively when in a relaxed playful state, as oppose to an intense state that overly worrying all the time could put them in. It is also far better to ensure you don’t lose sight of their holistic development. Any Reception Teacher would tell you that at such a tender age it is far better that they are able to dress and undress for PE, blow their own nose and use the lavatory independently, rather than not being able to do any of this and be ahead academically. Think about it – that’s backwards, doing “bigger things” before mastering the “smaller things”. So please let your love for them allow you to let them be, so they can be who they are.
2) Playground competitiveness can force you to lose sight of solution number one. So first remind yourself of solution number one whenever you find yourself being sucked in to small-talk. Once you become more aware when this is happening (it’s easy to be drawn in) change the subject. It’s also an idea to avoid other parents who are particularly over-competitive; who’s more important? – Your child wins every time. Ask the teacher, or class Rep to include this blog in an email to all Reception parents – that way there is less of an excuse for parents being overly competitive.
3) It’s always good to remind yourself that at Primary school your child is one of 20-30 other children depending on whether they’re at a private, or state school. I know no one likes to feel like their child is just a statistic, a small part of many; believe me, I do actually feel that being educated in a school environment (regardless of the type of school) is a great way for child to learn how to interact with peers. In life you don’t always get on with everyone and at school this will be the same; so your child gains valuable experience in how to deal with this. Anyway, back to solution 3; as egger as you might be to fire a load of questions at your child’s teacher about how s/he is doing – stop, take a deep breath and remind yourself that unless it’s urgent it’s unnecessary. Also remind yourself that if the teacher felt it necessary to speak with you, she would, so no news is good news – remember that! It’s also worth remembering that the teacher is human too and an overly neurotic parent can put their back up and this is potentially detrimental for your child too – think about how you’d feel in her shoes – hold back and show that you trust the teachers to do their jobs properly.
4) A child of four to five years of age is still learning how to socialise with peers and make friends. Thus, they are still finding out for themselves the types of children they want to befriend; so don’t be surprised, or alarmed if their “best buddy” seems to regularly change. Also, children of this age are still very much in the present moment, so any conflicts and bust-ups are soon forgotten. You also need to be in the present moment and resist your urge to overly help/intervene. It’s fine to be a shoulder to cry on if necessary and just gently remind your child of the qualities of being a good friend so they learn to become one; your involvement shouldn’t go beyond that.
I’ve heard of parents becoming overly protective and confronting the parents of the children their child is experiencing difficulty getting on with. First remember that their child will have probably given a completely different version of events to your child. Second, it could also do more harm than good. If the other child gets into trouble as a result of your intervention, this could potentially make the situation worse for your child and they may stop communicating with you about it as a result. Remember what I wrote in solution 3? – Your child is gaining important experience about how to handle different friendships. Remind yourself of how, as a good role-model to your child, that you should conduct yourself and confrontation usually isn’t the answer. If you think there is a serious problem, speak confidentially to the class teacher.
If you still feel concerned about anything please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org ; or find me on Twitter/ Instagram @FamilyTeamCoach and on Facebook/ LinkedIn, Paula-Elizabeth Jordan.