Take The "Starting Big School Photo" At Home
Get that Facebook shot in with your decent camera before you leave home. This is an important photo. I'm pretty sure I got more "Likes" for my son's first day at school than his first day on the planet. Or you could do as I did: be late leaving the house, and hastily snap the poor boy against a scenic fence on the school path, fumbling with my phone as a stream of families jostled behind me.
What To Wear
Your child's all sorted in his new kit, all with lovingly sewn-in nametapes (top tip: buy a laundry pen, people!). But what do you wear? So many messages you want to convey: to the other parents: "Hi, I'm lovely and approachable!", to the teacher: "I am lovely and approachable but say ONE WORD against my child and you shall know the wrath of Hades", and most importantly, to your child: "Everything is normal! See, I am wearing my cardi that you wiped your nose on last night". Throw in the mixed weather of September and it's a wardrobe quandary and a half. I had the decision taken out of my hands when my eldest started, as I was eight months pregnant, hotter than the sun, and unable to wear anything other than leggings and a vest with stains all over the bump that I could no longer see. In the end, of course, it doesn't matter. Because all the parents are looking at their own child, the teacher is trying to gauge the mass of wonderfulness s/he has to manage this year, and your child will be looking at your face. Which leads us to:
Should You Cry?
Just try and stop yourself! It's a big day. Feigning nonchalance is going to fool no one. Just maybe hold in the full eye-squirt till they're safely in the door. And don't forget your tissues. Or, in your heavily pregnant state, your other child, who's been standing patiently (slightly gleefully?) waving for ages.
You Will Know Nothing About Their Day
You know those daysheets you get from nursery, telling you when your baby did a poo and how much treacle tart he ate (always 2x for my children)? That chatty handover when you hear about how brave he was when a nameless child mistook him for a nail in Bob the Builder role play? No more. The teacher is busy. S/he is - quite rightly - prioritising learning the childrens' names and faces. Of course you can speak to the teacher if you have an important question, but on balance, it's advisable to play it cool, at least on the first day. You don't want to mark your - or your child's - card. I'm afraid that unless you have an unusually chatty child, you will know nothing about their school days. The only thing I gleaned from my eldest's entire Reception year is that, for lunch, he enjoyed "poo-poo pie". Every day for a year. (Yep, you never give up asking.)
They Will Come Out Starving
School meals - awesome! That will save me cooking! Good luck with that. Even if they had fish and chips with seconds of cake and custard, they will still want a full meal for tea. And that's just when you get home. I know it's not just my children who bay for snacks the second they see me in the school playground. This is a tricky one, on the first day. You want to spoil them rotten, but beware of setting a precedent. If you start off with a cupcake with two Flakes and a congratulatory Haribo edging, they will be a bit crushed the next day when you turn up with the last apple in the fruit bowl.
It's Going To Be OK
Even though you don't know all the details, you can be assured that your child will have had a nice, gentle day playing, just for a bit longer than usual. Time doesn't have the same meaning to them as us. They are in good, professional, and (surely I'm not the only one to appreciate this?) someone else's hands. As I send my second baby off into the unknown, at least I have the consolation that he will be well-fed. On poo-poo pie.
Best of luck to everyone with little ones starting school this term!
I'm back to school with the blog after a lovely break
over the summer. Hope you all had a fab time!