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by Katie Hodgkins

Starting School: Dealing With The Emotions as a Parent

Starting school is an enormous milestone for our children, and without a doubt one of the most emotional times of a parents life!

Where does the time go? One moment, we’re cuddling our babe-in-arms, doing everything for them, and the next they’re marching down the corridor into their classroom ready for their first day at school. Just the mere thought of this sets me off, and I still have 12 months to wait for this moment (potentially 24 months if we defer)!

We’ve been chatting with the parents over in our Facebook community about how they coped with their little one’s first day of school, and asked them what advice they’d give to other mummies and daddies dreading the first day of Autumn term. We hope that this reassures you that you’re not alone, and how you’re feeling is perfectly natural.

The Emotions

We can’t emphasise this enough; it is completely normal to get a little (or majorly!) tearful on your little one’s first day of school. It is also completely normal to feel very anxious; it really is a major change and an entirely new environment for your little one, and as their protectors it is natural for us to feel emotionally charged. Our mummy Milly Wake told us;

“My little girl doesn’t start until next week but I’m excited for her starting a new adventure, inside I’m devastated because how fast time has actually gone!”

She’s so right – starting school, for many parents, is the moment where it hits many parents just how fast our babies are growing up, which really adds to the emotional aspect. Kristi Roberts also told us;

“My daughter starts next week and I’m super nervous!”

Nerves seem to be a common theme amongst our mummies and daddies, as well as tearfulness and excitement. You’re not alone. Our top tips would be;

  • Join local mum groups for parents at your little one’s school.
  • If another mummy gets talking to you at the gates, don’t be afraid to engage and make friends who are in the same boat as you.
  • Consider all the positives of your little one starting school; we’ll look into this next.

Seeing the positives

Ok, so ‘just think positive’ isn’t a helpful snippet of advice whatsoever, we know it isn’t as simple as that. However, thinking of the positive aspects of starting school could actually help you to allay your nerves during those super emotional moments – we can’t promise it’ll morphe you into a super cool, calm and collected mum who drops their child off as cool as cucumber, but it might make you feel a tad better.

Tasha Phillips shared her experience with us; it’s super positive and we hope that it fills you with optimism!

“My little boy had been asking to go to school since before he was 2. The day he went it was like he’d done it all before, put his stuff on his peg, gave me a kiss and cuddle, said love you, walked straight in without a care in the world, put his name tag in the right place and didn’t look back… Safe to say I wanted to cry but I knew he would be fine. And he was the excitement he had of telling me what he done that day was unreal. I picked him up and first thing he said is can I go back to school now!”

So there we have it; as emotional and nervewracking as sending your little one to school can be, it’s important to think of the positives to give you some comfort;

  • Fun, stimulating activities every day with little chance of boredom.
  • Learning new skills to show you when they come home.
  • Making new friends and honing social skills.
  • Becoming more confident and independent.

Who to talk to if concerned

Of course, it’s an entirely new environment so it’s normal for your little one to perhaps be a little unsettled at first. If you’re feeling nervous about how your little one will cope with school, it’s important to bear in mind that compulsory school age is actually 5. ‘Summer born’ children can defer for 12 months and start reception a whole year later if you request to do so – read more about this here.

If you’re happy for your little one to start school but you’re still feeling anxious about how they’re coping and progressing, keeping an open dialogue with their teacher is so important, and they won’t mind giving you updates when asked. Ask your child’s school if you’re able to make contact intermittently throughout the day, or ask them to contact you if your little one needs some reassurance and extra support.  Some schools will keep a joint diary between parents and teachers too, so that you can update them on any behavioural changes, triggers for tears or any other important information so it’s advisable to ask your school if they can do this, too.

What tips and advice would you share with other parents who have a child due to start school soon? Let us know in the comments!

Love from Katie & Team BBY. Xx

Katie Hodgkins Image
I'm Katie, and I'm a mama, wife, and freelance content creator for Bump, Baby & You. I also help to run our thriving online community over in our Facebook support group, as well as volunteering for my local branch of the National Childbirth Trust. I'm a busy bee and enjoy keeping active, cooking, writing, and fun days out with my little family. My special topics of interest are... autism (as me and my son are both autistic), science, all things parenting and pregnancy related, and The Handmaids Tale!
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