Starting reception class

Is your child starting reception class? What are the top tips for preparing your child for starting school? At Labels4Kids we have three mums who have had children go through school and for two of us they are already out the other end. How did we cope you may ask? We’ve combined our experiences with some online research to give you some guidance we hope helps!

How to cope when your child starts school

It’s not easy sending a first, or a last, child off to school. And starting reception can be a shock when you are used to running in and out to pick them up from nursery or daycare. That’s why many parents ask how to cope when your child starts school.

From the positive side starting reception means full days in school. This frees you up for your work, your shopping, your cleaning, hobbies or whatever you need or want to do for yourself and your family. The freedom for mum, dad or carer can be so rewarding after being tied to nursery runs all day.

However, it can also come as a shock because it’s a change of lifestyle. Also it can be sad as you will miss them as much as they will miss you. The key is to keep busy and keep positive. Your child will notice if you are stressed or sad and they may mirror your behaviour. If they do, that can make life particularly difficult on day 2, 3 or 4!

Getting your child ready for starting reception

There are a few good checklists out there for starting school. Labels4Kids starting school checklist is one that may help you. Another good list is from Oxford Owl. Also Labels4Kids team has found some great parents tips for starting school by the School Run. 

Whichever tips you follow, make sure they suit you and your child, what you think would be worth a try. The starting school top tip we can give is an early bed time and early rise practice and include a good breakfast in the routine. Not easy after the long school holidays!

What uniform to buy

Buy the basic kit as on our checklist and you can wash and wear. You will need 2-3 of most things. Good uniform ranges can be found at most department stores and supermarkets these days. There are also many specialist school uniform suppliers online.

The best school shoes are ones that have good support and are comfortable with rubber soles that will not slip. Make sure there is space for the toes to spread out and they are not rubbing anywhere. It is not true if you are told “they will stretch”.

School shoes are the ONE thing that I would not do online for the first time. I would go and have them properly measured in a store and try them on. They are wearing shoes every day all year!

Name labels ARE worth the investment

If you buy the right ones name labels are well worth it for school kit. Our top selling back now are these two as they cover the shoes and the clothing and are fast and easy: shoe and clothing labels pack, and the school labels packs.

For tight budgets then you want to try just one small pack to start. If this is the case then the stick on clothing labels are best unless school requests you MUST have sew on labels.

What bag will they need?

Your child will have a favourite character or brand they are bound to want to buy for school as starting reception can be exciting. Having a nice bag can make their day. It doesn’t really matter which one they choose as long as it’s not too big or too small.

Your child’s school bag will need to fit a change of underwear and change of tshirt and trousers or skirt ideally, a homework book and possibly also their lunchbox. The size depends if they want a separate lunch box which is often put on a shelf with all the others.

I recommend Labels4Kids bag tags, not just because they are ours but because finding your lunchbox quickly at lunchtime can important when you are starving! Finding a school bag at the end of the day when you are exhausted is easier when you have a bag tag on to help find the right one.

These bag tags are great for any school bag

Will my child need packed lunch?

Normally they will like to sit with the others and have a packed lunch to start rather than having to negotiate the skill of school lunches. This of course depends on the school and you will find some mothers just want their child having a school meal to know they are catered for no matter what’s in the fridge at home.

Within a couple of days, whichever option you choose, your child will tell you what his or her new friends are doing and what they want to do. Don’t worry if they are doing the opposite to whoever they are friends with going in to nursery. Friendship groups can change in reception.

Kids do swap food at lunchtime whether you want them to or not. Try to give your child a healthy lunch but don’t be upset if you find they have had a chocolate bar from another child and swapped it for their fruit!

What will the first day be like and how do you cope?

The first day will be fine. You will be fine, they will be fine. They are meeting new friends. They are learning. And they are growing up. That’s life and you need to be happy about it. You will hear all about it at the end of the day so try to be happy and excited and praise them for being a big person and making lots of new friends in big kids school.

What happens if your child is upset going in to school?

The teacher will normally take the children at the door for reception age. They do not normally allow the parents in. Most schools ask the children to queue up out the front and come in to school when the teacher opens the door. This gets them used to routing. Of course some schools will differ. The teacher will tell everyone what to do on the first day when the bell goes so don’t worry.

If your child will not leave you they will come and get them so don’t be distressed and try to stay calm. Then just say “OK I’ll be back to pick you up at 3pm when you have had some time with new friends. Have fun”. Then turn and go.

Don’t look back! Have a good cry if you must but out of their sight. Then move on…time to do stuff and calm down. Keep your mobile phone on hand but I’ll almost guarantee you won’t get that call.

What if your child is upset at school?

Children are often a little upset initially at school and this is not unusual. Teachers are well used to looking after them and are trained to look after the kids and educate them. They realise some will love the opportunity of leaving home and others will be upset. As a result, most teachers will be kind and helpful and if your child was in a seriously distressed state they will let you know. Most children will come around fairly quickly when there is so much to see and do.

Will my child be able to do after school club first term of school?

Children are still very young to be starting school. In the UK we start school so much younger than in Scandinavia for example, where they are 7 years old!  Your child will be able to do after school club first term of school but it will be very tiring.

Do not rush to sign them up for tonnes of classes the first term. You may want your child to learn a sport or do a special activity you feel is important or you think they may enjoy. As a result some parents or carers decide to go ahead with classes after school. We suggest you let your child be too tired to attend the odd one in the first couple of weeks. The settling routine can take some time. They will be physically and mentally exhausted.

What can I do if I struggle to get my child in to school the first few weeks?

Don’t panic! It is quite normal for your child to not want to go to school initially. Going to school is a change of habit and it is hard work! If you really struggle after the first couple of days have a word with the teacher at pick up time. They will be able to help them settle in.

Remember that your child is small, you are the adult, and what you say goes. Your child should follow your instructions to get up and get dressed and come with you to school. Hopefully there will not be tantrums, though there may be tears. Just work through this with the teacher and things will settle.

How can I help my child settle in school?

Remain calm.

Stay confident

Be organised.

Set the rules, and 

Enjoy this exciting time in your child’s life.