A Guide For PANICKING Parents. Picking & Starting PRIMARY #School

A guide for parents. Picking and starting Primary school.

Welcome to the playground initiation!

Thinking back my insides felt as though Igglepiggle was dancing around with a scissors…

The first day of primary school is a huge milestone for both parent and little one. You are swept into a sea of pint sized people in oversized backpacks. Uniforms will never look that smart again. Ever. It is solo time.

Who is going to have a massive meltdown, you or them?

Picking a school

The school experience starts with picking a school. You may put all your faith in OFSTED, wringing your hands and rereading there report over and over. Crossing out the schools graded any less than ‘Good’. You may sit, attentive and alert listening to mums talk in coffee shops or the supermarket about what wonderful teachers little Timmy has. Choose Steiner, or Private. You may pick your old primary school which still has the same teacher who you swear has not aged a day.

You may be really bloody impressive and pick a primary school that is a feeder school into a fantastic secondary school…if so you are an organised parenting machine my friend. Go with your gut, have a look around, ask questions.

I won the bad mother award…

Moving cities in May and missed allocations. My son’s school place was left to mercy of the primary school gods. I was saved from too much obsessing and was happy he liked the colour of the uniform.

My undergrad degree is in education, I have a MA in Social work. I unwisely thought I would know exactly what to do when my son starts school. I was mistaken.


Starting School

Simplest advice…Prepare them.

School tester visits are important, do it together…whilst the library may be shiny, focus on little things i.e. where the toilet is, where drinks go and the peg where their coat lives. At home they know this automatically. We did a practise walk to the school. They will pick up on your feelings. The first week I gave him a gummy sweet for entering the classroom happy. Don’t focus on them not crying. If they are nervous take a trusted teddy friend. I showed my son a picture of my first day of school and my feelings.


  • Starting School by Janet and Allen Ahlberg
  • Topsy and Tim Start School by Jean and Gareth Adamson
  • Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds

Buy shoes a couple of weeks before term starts so they don’t grow out of them but wear them a few times so they do not rub your child’s heels off. Clarks are great for measuring and comfort but I do I gave up and started buying cheaper BHS shoes after 3 Clarks pairs were ruined by mud and scuffing in a months.  Avoid zips and buckles. Velcro all the way.

Reception children don’t need pencils, pencil case, protractor etc. They will just eat them… Get a sturdy drinks bottle. Expect things to be lost in the first few weeks. Buy spare! Make sre they can go to the toilet and wash their own hands and practise using cutlery.

Ironing. It’s a whimsical dream. If you have the time or inclination to do it you should receive parenting kudos. You will give up after week 1. Don’t buy iron on labels they fall off also after week 1…get a fabric pen. All the uniform does not have to have the badge buy a couple of plain polo t-shirts..they will get through a thousand… Buy uniform a size bigger as your child will seemingly outgrow everything in a month or to. Practise getting the uniform on a few weeks before hand make it fun, treats and do it dancing to music…this will make mornings and PE lessons easier for them.

Prepare yourself.

Hope to god you get a teacher that is generous with stickers. You will enjoy having a school age child. They need this, they will enjoy it but it is ok if you pine for the child sized empty space at home, the warm toast and laundry smell.

Teachers do home visits now…that freaked the pants off me?! Don’t spent the night before in a frenzy to clean your cooker. I was in a panic, should I ask about the reading levels, term topics?! I wanted to know how they encouraged children to make friends and what a school day looks like so I could talk it through with my son. I also told the teacher I hoped she wasn’t a psychopath… You don’t have to look like you know everything! Voice your concerns, my son was dressed up as superman when they came. Children don’t have to already be a genius at statistical maths. If another parent tells you there 4 year old can do they alphabet backwards and speak 3 languages….tell them your kid eats play dough. It might be a good idea if younger siblings play with nanny when teacher visits if possible.

Don’t leave cartoons on, your child is much more interested in danger mouse than introductions.

The night before… get yourself sorted.

Know where you drop kids the next day. Parking becomes a minivan nightmare with cussing and gesticulating parent and lollypop ladies. Walk if you can, or park in the next street. Give them breakfast in their pj’s…the first day after successful and painstaking self-dressing…my son smeared porridge across his lovely red jumper. FFS.

Other mums were amazing, they saw my blank face and gently guided me through. I told my little man, ‘I love you all the time and I will pick you up at three’, then gave him a hug kiss and a kiss for his pocket. Don’t get upset in front of them. Wait till you are round the corner to have a sob. I thought staying longer would help as my son cried, it made it worse. Give them a big smile, guide them to the TA who will cuddle and fuss them. Well I passed him to the TA kicking and screaming…but apparently he was fine after 5 minutes.

I was excited, nervous, I was not emotionally prepared. Eager to drop him off I expected peace at last. Instead I sat in the car outside the school gates on the phone to my grandmother hyperventilating. The second day I went home and shaved my legs.

School is a positive step.



After school

Also don’t be surprised if your little one becomes more clingy, argumentative, lethargic, excitable or prone to tantrums for a while. They will be exhausted afterwards so have snacks and a drink in the car when you collect them. I always ask my son to tell me one nice thing about his day.

The second day he said he had no friends, it makes me tear up now. I wanted to march in and scream ‘play with my son’, which of course would have been frightening and totally inappropriate. Instead we talked about how he could ask them to play, or if they liked cars etc? Help them be confident, there will be ups and downs.

Good luck!







Diary of an imperfect mum
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


  1. July 15, 2016 / 11:44 am

    Brilliant advice lovely, particularly getting them prepared to dress themselves. I would also add don’t give too much food in their lunchbox or too large a snack. Some kids take forever eating and hardly have any playtime, that’s no fun! I will be the new one in September! The kids will be telling me what to do. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

    • July 16, 2016 / 11:43 am

      Hide under the desk if they get loud!Haha I made Leo eat the school snacks and lunch as he is fussy at home school kind of encouraged him to eat as the other children were! xx

  2. elituesbay
    July 16, 2016 / 4:47 pm

    Thanks a lot for your advice! I am one of those PANICKING mums of a little girl who will be starting school this September. I was so worried cause we couldn’t make it to a Stay and Play session they held but hubby got to calm me down, sort of, and helped me cope with it. Now, I’m trying not too think about it at all until we need to buy her uniform a couple of weeks before school starts, then may the “Crying Games” begin…(mine probably)..LOL

    • July 18, 2016 / 12:37 pm

      Just cry out of view from them and don’t be disheartened if she is shy or doesn’t love it straight away, don’t be afraid to ask the teacher to cuddle her when you leave or leave a picture of you as a family in her bag etc..good luck xxx

  3. July 17, 2016 / 6:39 pm

    Great advice. Loved the book ideas. My boy starts school after summer and he’s so shy, I’m really worried how he will be. I work in education and I’m still worried about him. I also won’t get to take him to see him go as I will be at work 😢 Might be better for us both that way right enough! Thanks for sharing.

    • July 18, 2016 / 12:42 pm

      Books are great and it is I think more nerve wracking with shy children, I asked the teacher to gently pair him off with someone else so if he was not comfortable approaching people that would improve…I hope your little man has a lovely time xx

  4. July 17, 2016 / 7:07 pm

    This is a great guide! I’m sure I’ll be one of these panicking parents this time next year! #KCACOLS

    • July 18, 2016 / 12:42 pm

      Haha hopefully you will be a chilled our parent who does not need the guide and just drinks a glass of wine 🙂 xx

  5. July 17, 2016 / 7:59 pm

    This is a great guide with fab tips! Mia is starting school next sept and I’m so nervous!! I know what to expect as I was a TA before having her but I don’t know what to expect as a parent! 🙂


    • July 18, 2016 / 12:45 pm

      It is really different as a parent I think I was trying to be logical whilst my emotions were all over the place and also feeling really protective..its a whirlwind but they love it…eventually..Good luck for when Mia starts 🙂 xx

  6. July 17, 2016 / 8:03 pm

    Such a useful post. I think I was lucky that my daughter breezed it after being used to going to nursery 8-6 4 days a week! #kcacols

    • July 18, 2016 / 12:46 pm

      Haha your daughter is a pro..my son went to nursery full time from 8 months old but still went into meltdown for school…bless them xx

  7. July 18, 2016 / 2:22 pm

    Jade this is wonderful advice and in a few years time I will definitely be referring back to this. I feel a bit sad even thinking about it, my sister used to say it’s the end of them being solely yours when they go to school – bit depressing but I can see what she means! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of teachers doing home visits before, certainly not round here – are you just at a really good school?! #ablogginggoodtime

    • July 19, 2016 / 11:19 am

      I see what she means too it is a big leap and I didn’t quite realise that over those first few months how he would change from a baby to a boy..haha nope its a run of the mill school!xx

  8. July 19, 2016 / 12:14 pm

    This is such a great and helpful post! My son is only 15-months-old, so I don’t have to worry about school for a little while, but I can definitely see how the transition would be tough. As frustrating as kids can be-it has to be terrifying sending your kid off for hours and hours of the day 5 times a week-at least at first! Sometimes I think starting school is harder on the parents haha! Thanks for sharing <3 #KCACOLS

    • July 20, 2016 / 9:12 am

      Thank you for such a lovely comment, I think it is definitely hard on kids and parents at first! I was just trying to give as many tips as possible from all the things I did totally wrong! xx

  9. July 19, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    Great post. Starting school is really all about social skills rather than academic ones isn’t it? If a child can manage their own lunch and getting changed for PE then that’s probably as much as they need. #KCACOLS

    • July 20, 2016 / 9:14 am

      Definitely in reception I would say its all about the life and social skills ,making friends, being able to follow instructions etc. It is really lovely to see them interact with other children 🙂 x

  10. July 20, 2016 / 9:55 am

    Thank you for sharing this. My big girl is starting school this year and this is so helpful to read, especially the advice on getting them used to putting on their school uniform – we will make sure we get some fun “school uniform dressing up” sessions in! 🙂 #triballove

    • July 22, 2016 / 6:57 am

      AH bless her she will be amazing! You can do some fun pretend play of her being teacher and you following instructions too xx

  11. July 21, 2016 / 6:38 pm

    I enjoyed reading this post. As a teacher I see things from the “other side of the school gate” and always find the inductions to Reception a fascinating process. I overlook the infant playground from my classroom, and get to see firsthand the complete train smash of emotions in September and then of course the year 6 parents in July when the primary part of education is over. However children take to school, however their day has been, however mixed in emotions they are, rest assured that we go above and beyond to ensure the safety, happiness and well being of every single child. I love my job and I still get children I taught many years ago coming to visit which is so nice. Now the summer hols are here I can recharge my batteries before welcoming the next cohort. 😊

  12. madelinelittlejohns
    July 22, 2016 / 2:02 pm

    My son has just finished reception class and reading this has taken me right back to how I felt at the start of the school year! We read Harry and the dinosaurs go to school so many times last summer in preparation! x #KCACOLS

  13. August 23, 2016 / 8:50 am

    What a brilliant guide Jade for panicking parents like me with respect to Shortlisting a Primary School and getting your children prepared for this new journey. I really had a great time reading your post. I personally feel that starting school is all about focusing on social skills rather an academic ones. It is definitely a challenge for parents as well as for children selecting an ideal primary school and then effectively preparing for it.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep posting and keep sharing.. 🙂

    Keith K. Moffitt

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge