I’m a mom who’s been in the school system for a decade, and these are the tips I want all parents to know.
- As a mother of four children, I have been navigating the school system for 10 years.
- There are a lot of adjustments that come with starting school – and not just for kids.
I still remember the excitement and nervousness when my eldest daughter started school ten years ago; that’s just how I felt.
Now my youngest is starting reception – the London equivalent of kindergarten – in September, at the same school. I’m full of emotion, like her, but I’m much less stressed than before.
I don’t pressure myself like I used to. I also discovered how school can enrich the life of a parent as much as that of a child. Here are some things I learned that I hope will help those new to school.
Certain times of the year will be very busy
If you’re starting to notice that some months when school is in session seem more chaotic than when the kids are on vacation, that’s because they are.
September is hectic no matter how many years you’ve been in the school system; new teachers, new classes, new programs.
December is busy with festive shows and school events, while the last month of the school year is full of sports days, end-of-year celebrations, and more. It may seem like a shock to the system if you’re not used to it.
Costume days and school projects are still event
With four of mine at school this year, I’ve agreed to dig up a costume, cook something allergen-free, or try making Egyptian canopic jars out of cans of Pringles on a weekly basis. I’ve also agreed to forget half of what I’m supposed to do, and I refuse to blame myself like before.
Going to school is not always easier for parents
My three older children were all cheerful and confident at home, so I was unprepared for the emotional turmoil the start of school would bring.
As Taylor Swift might put it, “the screaming, the crying, the perfect storms” were all too common back to school. My children were happy to go to school – they just didn’t want me to go either. As teachers assured me that the tears would stop once they entered the classroom, I would be an emotional wreck before my workday started.
After school it was no better. A child described as “the star of the week” by his teacher arrived home as a crying, enraged and tired monster. If you’re in this boat, don’t despair. In my experience, it usually takes a trimester for kids to adjust.
One thing I don’t think you can really prepare for is the heartbreak of seeing your child discouraged because someone called them a mean name or because they weren’t invited to something. . It breaks me every time.
The social side of things can be just as stressful for parents
From pressure to throw class parties to what feels like speed dating with new parents in your kids’ classrooms, the start of school can be just as stressful for parents.
I used to be a nervous wreck at every social gathering. Desperate to make friends, I was afraid I wouldn’t be in my best shape chatting at 9 a.m. without sleep.
These friendships will happen in time, organically. This is also applicable to children. My eldest has the best friendship with a boy she’s been in class with since kindergarten. Although they had been in the same class since the age of 3, they only bonded when they moved to a new high school at age 10.
School-Mom-Dad friendships can be just as magical as those first school friends you make. Maybe even more: a mom from my eldest daughter’s class is now my youngest child’s godmother.