A Thousand and One Things

September is here. Nearly.

I seem to have avoided those panic articles this year (maybe they didn’t happen) about getting your child ready for school, although this from PACEY comes up as (nearly) my top hit. I’m glad I found it. It’s worth a read at a number of levels: straightforward and very much from a settling-in approach rather than a “ties-and-PE-kit” way of thinking about school, it’s something parents might find useful, and, because it’s not from School A or Class 1 it’s general enough to be useful for a wide range of people.

Your child doesn’t need to be able to read, write or do sums before they start school. Children start school with a wide range of abilities and their teacher will be skilled at helping children progress at their own level.

Chat with your child abut starting school.

Try not to make comments such as “I hated school…”

Don’t over-hype school…

Do you know exactly where to take your child and at what time?

It’s a good idea to keep the first few weekends quiet…

Plenty in here, and if the informal language stumbles just a bit, at least it is informal; it sounds like advice, not regulation, even on hand washing and bedtimes.

I would suggest that a good F1 (Reception) or Y1 teacher might take some time to turn this round:

Do my expectations for last June make this September’s parents nervous? Have I remembered that Primrose (or Sendak, or Busy Bees)  Class this year are an academic year younger than the children I said a tearful-and-relieved goodbye to just six weeks ago? That some of the parents didn’t make it to the Open Evening? Are all parents aware of the pressures on our day, and the best ways of getting in touch with me? Am I (somewhere) aware of a voice saying “That’s enough settling in”? What is my answer? And the NQT way of doing this? Well, look at your school, look at all the new faces, and take those first few days to recognise what it is to be a New Starter, however old you are…

… and do remember that the statement about Summer-borns is one that can’t be emphasised too much:

Summer-born children in particular, who start school soon after turning four,  may need extra sensitivity and flexibility to help them settle in.

Read PACEY’s guidelines, or read your own school guide for new parents, and turn it on yourself, not to beat yourself into a nervous pulp, but just to remember to take care of yourself, to take time, to be the skilled teacher the children (and the parents and the school) need.

Gavin and Errol and Sophie and Sushma and David and Kate and Robert and Alison may be starting school (glad to see PACEY still cite this classic)  – but so, in a sense, are their parents. And so, as you receive them, are you, dear colleague. Have a wonderful year.



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