10 things I wish I’d known before my children started school

1. They eat everything. It doesn’t matter if your child has been a fussy eater since the day they were born or considers fruit and vegetables the work of the devil; as soon as they realise that all they’ll get between breakfast and half past twelve is that tiny box of raisins or an old carrot, they devour it in seconds.
2. They will tell you almost nothing about their day.
3. What they choose to tell you about their day is never anything you want to hear. Child 1 often volunteers tales of how he and his friends had ‘awesome’ battles in the playground where the winners were whoever were the best at knocking people over; child 2 relates long and tedious tales of who she played hide and seek with at lunchtime when all I really want to know is if she had phonics that day, and did she behave on the carpet. This kind of information is never forthcoming.
4. It doesn’t matter how many friends they have, you’ll always worry that they are or will become a friendless, odd loner who will never be invited to any birthday parties and spends lunchtime with the teacher.
5. The teachers rarely write anything in their link books. This is because the teachers have far more important things to do with their time, like teaching yours and twenty nine other children.
6. When the teachers do write things in their books, it’s never anything you want to read. What you want them to say is ‘your child is the nicest, kindest, sweetest, most incredibly intelligent child I’ve ever taught – I’m beyond grateful you had him.’ What it actually – and entirely rightly given the point of link books – says is ‘can you make himself get dressed at home, because he still can’t get changed for PE.’
7. You will spend far too much time trying to work out what phonics group they’re in, and how many from the top they are, and what you could do to make them get into the top group.
8. You will look at the handwriting on other children’s Christmas cards and feel genuine horror at how well they can write, and immediately buy ten ‘improve your handwriting’ workbooks that then languish on a shelf because you realised that your child would probably prefer to build Lego and really, you haven’t the energy.
9. You will spend a terrifyingly large proportion of your time worrying. You thought you worried when they were little? That was child’s play. Now there’s so much more to worry about! What colour reading book they’re on, why they can’t add when they seem to have been doing it for months, does their teacher really like them or is she just covering up her horror at your badly brought up child with a professional smile, if they’re really enjoying school or just pretending to because they can sense your desperate fear, are their friends a bad influence on them, are they a bad influence on their friends? Basically, did you
do a terrible job bringing them up?
10. All this worrying will make no difference in the end. Not a single one of the above things matter if your children enjoy school and have good teachers. Children are wonderfully adaptable, resilient, individual, complex, little human beings. They cannot be compared. They learn differently, at different speeds, and in different ways. They can learn to read in a weekend. They can take months to learn to add. They can have problems which make them unable to write. They can write books by the time they’re five. They can be the kindest child in the class. They can be painfully shy. They can say things they’ve heard their parents say, and be judged by other parents for it. They can be cruel, and not mean it. They can be naughty. They can be good. Their phonics group will make no difference in the end. Nor will the fact that they had a bad day and didn’t get star of the week. They all have talents and abilities of their very own – and each and every one should be appreciated and celebrated.


Modern Dad Pages

4 thoughts on “10 things I wish I’d known before my children started school

  1. This is so true. My daughter finished Reception and we had ups and downs during the whole school year. I was also worried a lot and I was thinking that she was never going to learn to read or write at all!. Had the same feeling about her not having friends which is silly as she has lot of friends. But at the end she did really well and it was a successful year πŸ™‚ I have also written a post about it (Reception Year: changes from 4 to 5 years old) if you fancy reading it πŸ˜‰ . Great post! xx


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