First day at a new school - the challenge for child and parent

Angharad Holloway

Angharad Holloway - Credit: Archant

The first day at a new school can be an anxious time for a child but it is also a challenge for parents as Angharad Holloway, headteacher at Talbot Heath School, explains

Who do you think is most nervous about going back to school? As a teacher of 25 years, I can tell you that the group most likely to need fortification on the first day back are the parents of new pupils. Young people tend to adapt very quickly and within days of arriving at a new school most have found some friends and navigated their way to and from the lockers.

However, for their parents it may take weeks to adapt to the new routine. Three years ago we introduced refreshments for all parents of new pupils who had dropped their children off at the start of an academic year at Talbot Heath. They were certainly ready for a strong cup of something by 9am. This event is now a regular part of our school calendar and much appreciated by those parents exhausted from packing school bags, labelling uniforms, navigating a new school run and waving an anxious goodbye to their precious child as they head into unknown waters.

So what are my tips for parents as they prepare for a new term? Firstly, consider the requirements of the optimal school bag - size and strength need to be considered, as well as the all important coolness factor. But even the coolest bag needs to accommodate an A4 folder, so sneak one into your bag when out choosing and do a quick test when your child is not looking. Peer pressure tends to come into play with regard to bags, shoes, stationery and coats. The trick is to work out what will fit within the school guidelines while still being ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of the peer group.

My next tip is not to question whether your child needs all new stationery every year before the start of term. You may feel that last year’s pencil case will be perfectly acceptable for another three years but this is not the case. Part of the adrenalin rush prior to that first day back is selecting a whole new set of stationery items that can be proudly displayed to friends. It is a small price to pay for the happiness that it will bring and should not be underestimated.

Finally, is it really worth spending all that time labelling every single item of uniform prior to the start of term? At midnight on a Sunday, it might seem trivial to start labelling socks, shoes and even underwear, but this is a false economy. Those 30 minutes in the early hours will save hours at a later date trying to track down the child that is now wearing your child’s shiny new coat/ shoes/ blazer.

My last piece of advice is for both parents and children to embrace the change with relish. If you have any concerns at all contact the school and resolve them, don’t let things fester. A quick email or phone call can prevent a lot of heartache. Teachers want to work alongside you to support your child and do the very best for them. Within weeks, the new children will be the old kids on the block, happy and settled, and the new parents can sit back and relax knowing that what seemed like a huge change has been successfully navigated.

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