*In Collaboration with M&S*
Do you remember your first day at school? I don’t remember mine. I do remember going to visit though. We were about to move house, relocating to a new area, and Mum took me to visit my new school for the first time. I remember Mrs Cowan, the head teacher showing me round and asking me if I wanted ‘to spend a penny’ before I left – and I excitedly replied “Ooh yes please” – I had no idea that she meant I should go to the toilet before we drove home!
Although I don’t specifically remember my first day at school, I do remember my first PE lesson, in fact several of the children in my class remembered my first PE lesson some seven years later in their Year 6 leaver’s assembly despite the fact I had actually left the school in the middle of Year 5! We were told to get changed for PE – so I did. I completely stripped off, knickers and all – much to the amusement of my class mates. In my experience up to that point, getting changed was for bed or swimming I guess so my underwear would have come off too! Needless to say it wasn’t a mistake I repeated.
As a full time primary school teacher, I always worried I would miss my own children’s first day at school – that I would have to get them ready in a rush and drop them off with a childminder who would then walk them to school and usher them through the gates for the very first time. I’m forever grateful that my flexible working arrangements mean that I can choose to be at home on the first day of the new school year, that I can take the time to relish in those school runs and hold back the tears as the bell rings and I send my little one into school for the first time.
The start of a new school year is always exciting -and nerve wracking – on both sides of the fence! As a parent, a teacher, a pupil – the first day of school brings nerves and excitement for what lies ahead. For the new relationships that will be formed, for new routines and for new challenges ahead. I can promise you that as nervous as you are about leaving your child in the care of their new school, his or her teacher is equally nervous. Do you remember that feeling at the end of the summer holidays when you felt like you couldn’t remember how to write any more? I’ve always felt that like that going back to to school in September too (despite having been teaching for 14 years) – not that I won’t remember how to write but that I will have forgotten how to teach! Of course nothing could be further from the truth and the moment those happy (or not so happy) faces walk into my classroom it’s like someone flicks a switch and “Mrs Burgess” is back and ready for another year.
We’re rapidly approaching the last of our “first day” at school moments in our family. This September Amy will start Nursery at our local primary school. My last baby dressed in school uniform for the first time. Being a November baby, Amy is considerably older than Ben and Chloe were when they started Nursery at school and as such she’s much more aware of what’s going on. She swings between being really very excited about starting school, about her new teacher, her school uniform and her new school shoes – to being very sad that she has left pre-school, her teachers and her best friend who is sadly going to a different school.
Although Amy is generally confident, sociable and extremely smiley – these changes are huge for her at the moment and she’s definitely feeling unsettled and emotional. Whereas my other two walked into school on their first day without a backward glance for me and my glassy eyes, I do worry that Amy might be more upset. Luckily, having been on the other side of the school gate for so many years I know that if that’s the case, any tears will be short lived and she’ll soon be getting stuck in with her peers.
Because we’ve been doing the school run for the past five years, it’s always been a part of Amy’s life so getting ready for school on that first morning won’t really feel any different for her – we’ll get up and get dressed before having breakfast, brushing teeth and doing our hair. The routine will be familiar, the walk to school itself will be familiar – the big difference of course will be that Amy will be staying at school as well this time rather than coming home with me!
If the school run is going to be a completely new thing for your household then I fully recommend having a bit of a run through beforehand – walk the route to school to check your timings, start to get up a bit earlier in the morning in the last week of the holidays so it doesn’t feel such a shock. Think about what order to do things in – will you eat breakfast first to avoid potentially spilling on school uniform or will you make sure the kids are dressed before they eat to give them an incentive to hurry up?
Marks & Spencer are sharing anecdotes from teachers, who like me, have seen it all before – you won’t be the first person to hurriedly stick a pre-packaged sandwich in a lunch box and you won’t be the last to wipe toothpaste from the front of your daughter’s pinafore on the way out of the front door!
Whatever you do, however that first morning goes for you, trust me when I say it doesn’t have to be perfect – she won’t remember if her hair clips matched her bobble or if you haven’t got lipstick on when you walk her to school. And the bits that go wrong? Well they make for the best stories don’t they!