Wriggler has started school. Reception. Apple class…no biggie.
I mean, last year (when he started Preschool) we were both wrecks, crying, snotty and desperate to see each other after a couple of hours. Fidget didn’t bat an eyelid at ‘Bubba’ not being around…
This year was a bit different. I was determined to hold it together. Cos, whilst it is a tiny, little, weeny bit about me (first-born leaving to start a new adventure), it is 99% about him. And isn’t the point in parenting to raise children who embrace the world, who learn how to find their own way in it and to have fun.
Watching him getting tearful when I said goodbye to him at his classroom door was heartbreaking. I just wanted to scoop him up and take him home. But, we have always used self-soothing and calming talk when one of the kids are upset so that they can work out how to solve how they are feeling…and watching him try so hard to hang his coat up and put his book bag away without properly crying made me so proud that he could see that if he just got through saying goodbye he could go and have fun.
So, what tips do I have for starting this new chapter?
In the month or so before:
- Talk about it with the child in the weeks before they start
- Get some books about characters who have started school (like Harry starts school or Topsy and Tim start school) so you can read and talk about it
- Do a test walk of the route so that they can see how they get there and what school looks like
- Practice putting on their uniform and PE kit so that they gain confidence in doing it themselves
- Have a reward chart for the last month before they go for something that they need more confidence doing, like trying a new food or putting their shoes on and give them the prize at the end of their first day
In the first week:
- It is so hard, but try and keep how you feel about this in check, they will pick up on how you are feeling and if you are upset they will worry
- Have their comforter ready for the first couple of days at drop off and pick up, they might want to keep it in their bookbag and most schools are OK with this for the first few weeks
- Create a ritual for just the two of you for saying goodbye in the mornings. It might be talking about what you will do after pick up, putting a photo of the family in their bookbag to look at if they are ever upset, or drawing some kisses on the inside of their wrist (so they don’t wash off) so they know that they are keeping your love and hugs with them all day
- If they have a younger sibling then try and prepare them for their favourite older sibling being around less. This hadn’t even crossed my mind but Fidget roaming the house calling for ‘Bubba’ for the third day running made me realise that whilst he loves being with me – his favourite person in the world is Wriggler and he really missed him
- Be prepared for them being very tired and hungry, lots of healthy snacks for after school, we still did dinner as well as the hot lunch for a few weeks as Wriggler was starving
Each child is different and will face their own challenges as they adjust to this new chapter, goodness know what Fidget will be like, but I suspect he will head off without a backwards glance, too excited to be like his big ‘Bubba’.
Good luck to all the newbies this year, have fun this term and well done Mumma, you have a school-aged child now!