About to send your baby off to school for the first time? Worried about what to expect?
Forget Ofsted reports and class sizes, this is the real lowdown on what happens in your child’s first year at school. For starters don’t expect your child to be able to say the name of their class, two terms in and my daughter still thinks she’s in ‘Becepshum’.
1. The Emails
Oh God the emails. Please make it stop.
Remember that weird girl at work who kept sending emails to the entire company about random pointless shit? Yeah well she left and got a job in the school office. Here’s a brief taster of what your inbox will look like come September:
- An update of the school’s policy on cheese
- Suspected nits
- Reminder about non uniform day with NO FUCKING DATE IN THE EMAIL
- Procedures for evacuation of the school in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse
- Definite sighting of nits
- Pupil of the week award
- Everyone has nits now
- Something about school dinners, no idea what I deleted it hope it wasn’t important
- Suspected case of bubonic plague in year 6
- Nits are back or probably just never actually went away
- Don’t forget to send your children in dressed as a giraffe entering Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow for ‘World Haven’t We Got Enough Shit To Think About? Day’
- Winner of the this years house cup : The Nits
Top tip: When choosing a school ask how many emails on average they send a week and just pick the one that sends the least.
2. The Disappearing Clothes
Now I am no stranger to leaving the house in one outfit and returning in something different, my excuse is that I was drunk and cold.
But I have NEVER returned home in someone else’s tights or knickers. And if that did happen I would damn well know about it. In fact it would probably be the first thing I told you – Hi there I’m wearing someone else’s undercrackers!
It is perfectly normal for children in Reception to arrive home in someone else’s pants. To be fair I have NEVER managed to get both my children dressed without threatening to delete Paw Patrol from Netflix. Why anyone would attempt to get 30 children changed in and out of PE kit is beyond me.
Primary Schools are a massive vortex of missing uniform, stuff just disappears never to be seen again. Somewhere in an alternate universe it’s raining cardigans, socks and t shirts.
Top Tip: When they say label everything. Just do it. Everything. Yes even the knickers.
3. The Reading & Writing
You know reading and writing? Yeah well you don’t.
Everything you learnt at school was bullshit and now there’s a whole new system to learn. With hand gestures. I swear they’ve only invented Phonics so reception teachers can have a good laugh at all the parents.
And the books! Reading is my all time favourite thing to do ever but even I have been pushed to my limits by the wonders of the first reader.
Sam had a nut. Bob had a nut. Jim had a nut.
And what are Sam, Bob and Jim going to do with their nuts? Nowt.
To be fair how many things can you think of to do that require only three or four letters? On second thoughts don’t answer that.
4. The Fancy Fucking Dress
Try to assemble a basic wardrobe of fancy dress costumes before they start school:
Pirate, Ancient Greek, Robot, Roman Centurion, Superhero, a selection of animals – exotic and farm, something Victorian so you can pretend to be clever on World Book Day, Christmas jumper, Easter bonnet, Viking.
With this capsule wardrobe you can probably knock up something suitable when you receive the email two days before reminding you it’s international ‘Dress like a historical figure who you admire’ day.
My daughter is 5, she admires Amy Jo from DCTC – a grown woman whose actual job appears to be playing with Kinder surprise toys in YouTube videos with a voice that could split the atom. She’s pretty much this generations version of Ada Lovelace.
Top tip: Remember to cut out the Ann Summers labels from any fancy dress items before packing the kids off to school in them.
5. The School Dinners
Anyone fed up of over flowery foodie descriptions on restaurant menus should get a class of reception children to write their menus. So far my daughter claims to have been fed:
Meat and Stuff
Translation: Roast dinner
Hotdogs but they forgot the bread bit
Translation: Braised Sausage
Mmm it was pink
Translation: No idea
Like a cake but with sauce on
Translation: Orange Sponge with Custard
Translation: Jacket Potato, no elaboration on any toppings
Hot Orange Sandwich
Translation: Cheese Panini
We didn’t have any lunch today
Translation: Go away and stop asking me questions
6. What are they doing?
Do not expect to find out what your child has been doing all day by asking them about their day. Reception children are too clever for that – instead you have to play the after school game:
At the end of every day each parent will be given one snippet of information by their child, all parents will have to work as a team to piece the puzzle together and discover exactly what happened that day.
Like a shit episode of The Crystal Maze set in a rainy, cold playground.
7. The Paperwork
So much admin! I’m thinking of clubbing together with some other mums and hiring a class P.A.
In our house the school admin has all fallen to me, on the one occasion I asked Daddy to fill in a form for school I was met with a barrage of panicked questions.
What class is she in? What are Key Stages? Where do I take the form?
When it says signature do they mean mine or hers?
Yes sweetie they want a 5 year old who can only write her first first name in jumbo pencil to sign the release form. Gah!
8. The Presents For Teachers
I once looked after four five year old girls for a whole afternoon and I wanted a fucking medal.
Reception class teachers look after thirty 5 year olds every day. Obviously you want to reward this dedication with something suitable at Christmas like a few rocks of crack cocaine or a bottle of wine. Then you read one of those online listicles ‘50 presents all teachers hate being given at Christmas’ and you start to worry that your bag of heroin in a Cath Kidston pouch is inappropriate.
Buying presents for teachers is a minefield.
Top Tip: Do not give teachers Class A drugs as a Christmas present.*
*Wait til Summer.
9. The Artwork
All those craft tables at playgroup? They were just the warm up. As far as I can work out Reception Class is basically an exercise to fill the family homes of Great Britain with cat food boxes decorated with glitter and feathers.
I have no idea why.
Top Tip: Hire a wheelbarrow or a flatbed truck for pick up on the last day of term when you will be sent home with all your child’s ‘projects’.
10. The First Day Of School
Maybe you’ll be in tears, maybe you’ll be jumping for joy. There’s no right or wrong way to be. Whatever your feelings about the day you will be unable to stop yourself from taking a picture of your child in their uniform and posting it to Social Media. Even though you know some people find this incredibly annoying.
Top Tip: We live in a society where our children are afforded a wonderful education, many countries don’t have that option so take a picture, post it on Facebook and ignore the moaners.
I hope your school journey is as much fun as ours has been so far. Good Luck!
Do you like the illustrations? I didn’t draw them but you can see more of that sort of fabulousness here.