first day at school essentials
can't get through their first day without…
doing your homework
Most schools will arrange open days before the start of the new term. Do try to go along, both for your sake (to meet the teachers, other parents, etc.) and for your child's. Just knowing where the loos are, or where to hang their coat, can make things a lot easier on that first day. As a parent, you can also use the visit to familiarise yourself with the layout of the school, meet other parents, ask questions and make the staff aware of any special needs (allergies and so on) your child may have.
sorting out your childcare
If you work, warn your childminder well in advance of the drop off/collection times and also school holidays. You will also have to inform the school if anyone apart from you collects your child, and details may need to be confirmed in writing.
getting all the right kit
Don't leave everything until the last few weeks, as the most popular lines of uniform can sell out. And remember, school uniform also includes things such as PE kit or painting aprons. If you're hoping to pick some things up second hand, look out for your school's summer fete - there's often a stall selling bargains.
Whether you use iron-on labels, a marker pen or the traditional sew-on labels - all school clothes need to be labelled clearly with your child's name. You don't want that lovely new school coat going home with the wrong child! And remember to write your child's name inside their trainers.
finding the right accessories
Thomas the Tank Engine? Postman Pat? So many options: Your child will love choosing their first schoolbag, but check your school's policy first - many teachers do not want thirty rucksacks cluttering up the cloakroom. Some places prefer a slim reading folder with a carrying handle to begin with, and they may even supply their own.
To start with, most children only do half days, but when yours starts staying for lunch it's time to invest in a sturdy lunch box. Cool packs and a leak proof drinks container may also come in handy. And a cheeky surprise every now and again will be a welcome reminder of home.
planning your route
Don't add to your stress by trying to park right in front of the gates on your first day. Leave the car around the corner and then walk the rest. That way you can have a little chat with your child - and forget all about the traffic warden.
keeping it low key
Don't fuss too much about the Big Day, otherwise you might find it all gets a bit fraught. By all means organise an after school treat - a trip to the park or a pizza together, but resist grilling your child about their first day. They'll tell you about it in their own time.
packing some tissues
Not for them, silly - for you!