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Top tips for parents if your child is starting school for the first time

PUBLISHED: 12:12 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:36 04 September 2018

Thousands of children in Norfolk could start school this month without knowing basic skills such as how to hold a pencil or go to the toilet by themselves. Picture : ANTONY KELLY.

Thousands of children in Norfolk could start school this month without knowing basic skills such as how to hold a pencil or go to the toilet by themselves. Picture : ANTONY KELLY.

The first day of school can be an anxious milestone for parents and children alike.

Labels are essential to ensure that when items, like wellies, go missing they are returned to the right child. Picture: Antony Kelly.Labels are essential to ensure that when items, like wellies, go missing they are returned to the right child. Picture: Antony Kelly.

With East Anglia’s schools starting back this week after the long summer break, we asked parents for their top tips on how to make sure it goes smoothly for the four and five-year-old pupils starting in reception classes.

Here is their advice:

Buy sticky labels with the child’s name printed on and stick to EVERYTHING.

Leaving notes and smiley faces in lunch boxes can be a fun thing to do to make children smile when they first start school. Picture: Matt UsherLeaving notes and smiley faces in lunch boxes can be a fun thing to do to make children smile when they first start school. Picture: Matt Usher

Make sure you label literally everything - all clothes, bags, shoes, water bottles etc. They will lose pretty much everything they take to school at some point and a label goes a long way to helping recover it later.

At nursery the staff seem to know exactly which shoes belong to each child; which colour cardigan daddy sent them in with and whether or not the child had a coat that morning.

Yet when they reach school it is a different ball game. Firstly, most of the children have identical cardigans and one of the three stock options from Clarks on their feet. Secondly, there are more of them and the teacher really has no time to reunite bodies with lost coats so they all get sent to lost property. And that box is like a Tardis, once in there, it is impossible to tell what is yours unless you have a bright name tag glaring at you.

Make sure they can do up their own shoes and coats. Place a sticker in one shoe so that the child is able to tell which shoe goes on which foot. Otherwise, they will probably come home with their shoes on the wrong feet at some point.

Do a dummy run of the walk or ride to school so the child is assured where they are heading and what the plan will be.

Pack everything the night before so there is not a mad rush in the morning.

Make sure to make time for breakfast.

Suggest a What’s App, Facebook or other similar social media group for all the parents in your child’s class. If you are particularly prone to forgetting about non-uniform days, school trips and other events then it will be your saviour as one of the super organised parents normally posts to remind everyone else.

Put little notes and smiley face messages in their lunch box. If you are sending your child with a packed lunch, think about how easy it is to get into their snacks. Try folding over the top of their sandwich bag rather than using a tie or simple place them loose in the box.

Little fingers can struggle to open those tightly wrapped cheese portions so again, go loose or pop cheese into a little kid-friendly box. They may find they have less time for lunch than they do at home and you don’t want them to waste half of it opening their snacks.

Don’t let them see you crying as you wave them off.

Make sure you’ve got something to do after you’ve dropped them off on the first day.

There may be a few tears when it comes to saying goodbye (yours and theirs), but the reality is that within 10 minutes they’re probably getting stuck into painting, or junk modelling, or one of those other messy things that they love to do at school.

You need to keep yourself busy too, or you’ll end up spending the whole time checking your phone in case the school rings and clock-watching until pick-up time.

Meet a friend for coffee, do the shopping, hit the gym, even work – anything to keep your mind off the inevitable question: “I wonder how they’re getting on?” or, even worse: “Are they having more fun than they do at home?”

Check if the school friends’ association or parent and teacher association sells second hand uniforms. It’s nice to send them off in new uniforms, if you can afford it, but handy to have spare sets of older uniforms that you are happy to leave in a bag on their peg in case of accidents. Or in case small boys getting themselves covered in mud in the playground. Which happens on a regular basis in the wetter months.

And here are some of the more humorous pieces of advice we have received:

Warn them that they have to go the next day too. Ours thought once they had been to school for one day they did not have to go again.

Set aside some time to explain to them that school is not something to be escaped from.

Do you have any tips for parents of new pupils? Add them in the comments below.

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