So your baby is getting ready for their first year of big school? This is equal parts exciting and nerve-racking and terrifying and thrilling – and all sorts of other big words your child will soon learn!
You won’t be there during the day to hold their sweaty little hand anymore, but there are a few things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible… for both of you!
1.GET TO KNOW THE OTHER PARENTS
You’re all in this together! While you might find that the only thing you have in common with some of the other parents is that you happened to have conceived a child at roughly the same time, making the effort to get to know each other can make or break your first year.
Maybe you’ll be the parent who hangs around the gates for a leisurely chat each morning, or maybe you’ll have to drop and dash in a frantic rush to get to work, but the fact is you’re all likely to be just as confused as each other. And trust me, there’s plenty to be confused about! What day is the athletics carnival? What is the news topic this week? Do they need to wear sports uniform or school uniform on Thursdays?
One idea is to set up a Facebook group for the parents of your class, making for a quick and efficient channel for those last-minute freak-outs. And as a bonus, it makes organising drinking nights out that much easier!
2. DON’T RELY ON YOUR MEMORY
So library day is on a Wednesday, and sports is on Thursdays. That can’t be so hard to remember, can it? Ha. Not only are you likely to forget to bring back that book on sharks that little Billy borrowed and never read anyway, but such is the sheer volume of information and notes and newsletters and permission slips, you probably won’t even know what day of the week it is by Week 2.
One trick I eventually picked up was to set reminders on my phone to go off each morning with whatever was happening at school that day. You could also take photos of the letters that come home and save them to a special ‘school’ album on your phone. Now you’re less likely to be THAT PARENT who sends their kid off in full school uniform on a non-school uniform day.
No-one wants to be that parent – or that kid!
3. DON’T GO FANCY SCHMANCY WITH THE LUNCHES
“I’m going to bake healthy muffins and breads every week!’ I proudly told people when the subject of school lunches came up. Hahahahahaha. I did it once. Honestly, you can fill those shiny new lunch boxes with homemade organic sushi cut up to look like Pokémon characters – and fair play to those with the skills and wherewithal to do so! – but chances are they won’t eat anything except maybe a ham and cheese sandwich and a banana – if you’re lucky – before dashing off to play with their new friends. And that’s just fine. There’s nothing quite like trying to get a Kindy kid ready for school in the morning – “Eat up eat up eat up/shoes on shoes on shoes on/get in the car get in the car get in the car” – so save yourself the stress and keep it simple!
BONUS TIP: Empty out their lunch boxes BEFORE school holidays finish – and spare yourself a nasty, smelly surprise. You’re welcome.
4. DO THE HOME READERS
No honestly, do them. Each day Little Jess will bring home a reader and some sight words to learn, and although sitting down and going through them when Little Jess is tired and hungry and cranky and you’ve got other kids to look after and dinner to make and emails to respond to can be THE MOST FRUSTRATING experience in the world, staying on top of homework right from the beginning will set up a routine that pays off in the end. It’ll all be worth it when it starts to click! Which brings me to my fifth tip…
5. PUT SOME CHAMPAGNE ON ICE
The first year of school is HUGE and watching the world open up to your child as they learn to read and write and their independence soars and new friendships blossom makes all the bleary early mornings, the homework fights, the stained uniforms, the brain-searing pick-up and drop-off logistics and the emotional turmoil of it all SO WORTH WHILE.
So when December comes around and your little one is penning a letter to Santa all by his independent little self, kick back and raise a glass – you survived Kindergarten!