Starting School can be terrifying for parents, carers and even children. We understand that the whole process can seem overwhelming but it can also be really exciting and we’re here to take some of the guessing and stressing away. We have lots of blogs and instagram posts planned for the next couple of months to help with preparing your child for school. Here I am just going to explain the process for those whose children are starting school in September and give some information about what will happen now and in the months before they start.
By now you should know which school your child has been allocated a place in a Reception class in a Primary School near to you. Hopefully this is a school you are really happy with and was one of your top choices. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. If you haven’t been given the school of your choice or you are unhappy with the decision you will need to contact your Local Authority to find out about their appeals process for admissions.
Schools will have a list of children who are joining them in September and should now be sending out information about start dates and transition. Every school is different and so you will need to wait to find out what will be on offer to you and your child. Bear with schools, May is a really manic time in other year groups and so it might be that you don’t recieve any information until late May or even June. Of course you could always give them a call if you are impatient like me!
As I have mentioned all schools are different and what they offer to prepare both you and your child for school will differ massively. Below I have listed a few things that might be avaiable with some short descriptions.
1. Dates and times for school in September.
Schools will tell you the first day of term and what time school starts and finished for your child. They will also tell you whether your child starts full time or on a staggered start. Full time means they go for the whole school day right from the get go. Some schools do a staggered start where children may go to school just for mornings in the first week, then for mornings and lunch in week two and build up to full time. As with everything in life people’s preferences for this will differ but staggered starts can be quite difficult for working families. If this will cause you a problem talk to your school as all children are entitled to start school in the September after their fourth birthday and therefore schools will have options for full time if you need it. Equally, if you want a staggered start for any reason and it is not the school policy just give them a call to talk things over.
Schools will arrange and invite you to meetings before you child starts school. These are usually in July and are really useful. I would definitely go if you can possibly make it. Here you will get the chance to meet the teachers and normally the Headteachers too. You will find out really important stuff about uniform, lunches, what your child will learn, after school clubs and more. It is also a great opportunity to meet the parents’ of all the other children in your child’s class who are all in the same position as you (nervous, petrified, excited, scared…..). Often you will be given tonnes of paperwork at these meetings, some will need completing and returning so don’t be tempted to chuck it in the paperwork draw (or similar void like area in your house where paperwork is put and never found again!)
3. Transition sessions
Most schools offer transition or ‘settling’ sessions. These are opportunities for your child to spend some time in school to get to know their classroom, teacher/s and new friends. There are often a few sessions put on which you may be able to choose from. Some schools ask parents to stay but most expect you will leave your child there for the sessions. Do make sure they have any information about medical needs etc before you leave your child.
4. Home and pre-school visits
Most schools will offer visits to see your child in a setting where they are already comfortable. If they are in pre-school or nursery then teachers will come and see your child and chat to their key worker before they start school. This is a really useful way for them to gather important information about how your child is getting on, what they like and don’t like and if possible spend some time getting to know your child.
Lots of schools also offer home visits. While this might sound scary – having a teacher in your house – it is such a valuable experience for all parties. The teachers just want to have an opportunity to meet you and your child in a setting where you are relaxed and give you chance to ask questions or share concerns without 30 other parents/carers in the room! It’s a great way for them to bond with your child so that when they start school the experience isn’t so daunting. If you teacher has met your cat, seen your basketball net, sat cross legged on your carpet watching cbeebies etc, then you know she/he is actually a normal and very lovely person and day 1 of school just seems so much more exciting! With this in mind I really encourage you to book a home visit if you can.
There might be lots of other events/ infomation that your school shares with you before September. Some will invite you to fetes/ summer productions, some set up buddy systems so your child has a friend in an older class when they start and some will give you booklets of ‘homework’ which your children can bring to school to share with their peers. Whatever is on offer try to get involved and find out as much as you can before the September mayhem begins!
Hopefully this has given you some useful information about what might be happening around this time for you and your child as you begin the journey into school life.
We will be doing more blogs and insta posts on how to help your child to prepare for school over the coming months.
Any comments of questions add in the comments section below, ask us on Instagram or email us.