When I say preparing, I mean, lying awake at night worrying about the best way to get your child ready for this important milestone.
How can I help my child do well at school? What if she hates it? What if she cries at the school gates? What if I cry at the school gates? Will she eat her lunch?
This week I will be waving goodbye to my just four year old and leaving her to embark on her academic journey – without me.
I am not sure I am ready for this. It feels like only yesterday she was a tiny baby in my arms. Now just as I am (kind of) getting to grips with parenthood, I have a whole new set of things to worry about.
Will she manage to wipe her own bum? Will she wash her hands? Should she be able to read books? Or do times tables? Will there be mean kids? Will she be overwhelmed, tired or scared?
At least at home I can protect her from horrible children, germs and princessy shit.
While she is in my care I can hold her when she cries or comfort her when she feels sad. I can make her laugh when she is grumpy or kiss her better when she falls over. I can untwist her knickers when she pulls them up the wrong way, I can wash her hands before lunch and tell her it is ok if she can’t do something right first time.
But what will she do when I am not there?
In the end, I did what I always do when I have no idea what I am doing – rang my mum.
“Mum, the biggest starts school tomorrow and I have no idea what I am doing…I have not even brought a pencil case. What if I can’t get us all ready in time if I have had a bad night with the littlest? Should she be able to draw a house yet? SHE CAN’T EVEN DRAW A HOUSE FOR GOODNESS SAKE! I am just not going to send her. Shall I just not send her mother?”
“Right,” said my mum calmly. “The main thing is that she enjoys it and has fun. She will learn as she goes along.”
“Fun? That’s all you’ve got?”
“Oh, and try not to drop her off in your pyjamas. It will inevitably be the one time the teacher wants to talk to you.”
“As if I would do that…” At this point I realised it was 11am and we were all still in our pyjamas. She had a point.
Unable to come up with any useful tips, I have written a list of things I am pretty sure won’t help my daughter do well at school.
1. Buying her uniform from Aldi at the last minute.
Do I go for the classic pinafore dress, trousers or a skirt? Polo shirt or button up shirt? After agonising all summer about what to buy, by the time I got around to uniform shopping everywhere had mostly sold out. So I bought whatever was left. However, I imagine it will have no bearing on her academic achievements.
2. Trying not to look like an idiot at the school gates. Whether I cry, hover over her, hug her for too long or ask the teacher a thousand questions. Whatever I need to do to deal with this massive step in my parenting journey, chances are my child won’t even notice. She’ll be too busy checking out the facilities. ‘MUM THEY HAVE HAND DRYERS IN THE TOILETS!!’
3. Teaching her to paint like Da Vinci… I am pretty sure that by attempting to get her to ‘refine’ her art every day this week, the only thing I have succeeded in doing is to make her sick of painting. They may learn things in their own time. But they will learn things.
4. I told my daughter that at school she must not shout out ‘poo’ or ‘bum’ a lot like she does at home. She responded to this request by shouting ‘POO BUM A LOT LIKE AT HOME’. Continuously. Lesson learnt. Tell a four year old not to do something and they will most definitely do it!
5. Buying her expensive trainers. When I was at school I told my parents I definitely needed Nike Air trainers. They told me they couldn’t afford them and bought me Nicks from Poundstretcher. I told them they had ruined my life. It is a miracle I managed to pass my exams and go on to study at university under the circumstances.
So in conclusion maybe, just maybe my mum was right…
Has anyone else got a child about to go up to pre-school/school? How are you preparing for this? For some great advice visit schoolguide.co.uk. Feel free to comment in the box below or join us for a chat on Facebook or Twitter.