10 parenting tips for a great first day at school

Make those first days & weeks go as smoothly as possible 

Talk about school before they start

From practising your walk to school through to reading books about the classroom and looking at the website together, there are lots of ways to help your child prepare for starting school. Mum-of-two Kelly Terry says, “Ours gave us a little handout to stick on the fridge with details of which class my son was joining and who his teachers were. We spoke about it every time we were in the kitchen.”


Stock up on school supplies

No first day at school is complete without a shiny new pencil case and stationery set. Plan a fun shopping trip to buy their new kit and school uniform. Mum-of-two Hannah Rowe says, “I took my children with me to buy their uniforms and it definitely helped them feel more excited about going to school.” Don’t forget little extras like hair bobbles to keep hair tied back and help avoid nit outbreaks!


Get them school-ready over the summer

Starting school marks the beginning of independence for your little one. Give them a head start by making sure they can read their name (handy for finding their coat peg), get dressed and undressed and go to the toilet on their own. Primary teacher Amy Pealing says, “If they will be having a school meal, you can also practise things like carrying a tray with a plastic plate and cup to the table.”


Have summer playdates

Get your child ready for the playground – and prepare yourself for the school gates – by meeting up with other classmates (and parents) over the summer. Mum-of-two Lou Sherlock says, “Set up a class WhatsApp or Facebook group. This helps with organising meet-ups and is also a great place to get reminders about World Book Day and dress-up days when term starts.”


Be ready for back-to-school bugs

Colds, sickness, nits… starting school brings a whole range of bugs. Stock up on handy items like tissues before the start of term so you’re ready for any sniffles. “I make sure my daughter always has a mini bottle of hand sanitiser in her school bag to ward off any classroom germs,” says mum-of-three Charlotte Edy.


Start a routine

Leaving the house on time for the school run can be a challenge. Teacher and mum-of-three Sarah Davies says, “Try introducing a timer over the summer so you can encourage your child to get dressed quickly (your teacher will love you!) and eat their lunch within 30 minutes – the time they’ll have at school.”


Send a keepsake from home

Ease any starting school anxieties by giving your child a comfort item to take with them. Child psychologist Dr Claire Halsey says, “Attachment mementos that bridge home and school can really help a child. Something like a little keyring attached to the school bag with a photo of your family. Your child will feel reassured that even though they are out of your sight, you’re still thinking of them.”


Don’t drag out your goodbyes

It can be tempting to hang around outside the classroom just to make sure your child is okay. But infant school headteacher Jennifer Downing says, “On the first day, however hard it may be for you, be confident and don’t cling to your child! Trust the professionals who will be looking after them and rest assured, if you leave an upset child, once you have gone they will soon settle.”


Pack an after-school snack

Avoid any hangry meltdowns at school pick-up by taking water and a snack for your child. Look for healthy, easy-to-nibble foods that will help keep them going till their evening meal, like oatcakes or an apple. Mum-of-three Helen Mansey says, “All my kids were starving after a day at school so a quick snack is a must for when you meet them at the school gates!”


Find out about their day

Ask your child how school was and chances are you’ll be met with a blank look. Dr Halsey says, “‘How was your day?’ is too big a question. Try asking what they enjoyed most or who they sat with at lunch. Also recognise your child might not want to talk straight away and instead wants to go home and play with their favourite toy. Don’t be surprised if they start chatting about school hours later, over dinner or at bedtime.”