Preparing for primary school: things you’re never told about before they start!

Are you preparing for your child to start primary school, applying for school places or getting set for that First Day?

High 5 if you love school!

Half term has now been and gone (how did that even happen?!) and so I’ve had a little time to reflect on the past 6 weeks at primary school! We’ve had her first school trip, first parents’ evening, first fancy dress day, and even her first accident forms.

I know every child is different and every family will deal with this transition in a different way. Lily has only just turned 4, so being one of the youngest, we had our own concerns, but here are a few things I’ve learnt over the past few months…

The build up

I found the build up to the Big Day far worse than that day itself. I went through every emotion known to man, from denial and sadness through to excitement and happiness.

The preschool graduation was possibly the hardest part, not so much that she was leaving preschool, but more because she was officially no longer a baby. But she also “knew” this, and was a pain in the bum for a few weeks as she totally thought she was a teenager now she was starting school!! (*Facepalm*!)

Graduation from preschool was probably harder than starting school!
Graduation from preschool was probably harder than starting school!

By the time we walked through the school gates, we had spent so long talking about it, preparing for it, asking about it, that I even surprised myself that I wasn’t balling my eyes out. She was more than ready, and I was excited to see how excited she was for school too. In fact, she was only in for 2.5 hours and I was wondering if they’d keep her* a little longer!! (*Not a bad mama, I promise!!)

The school run...
The school run…

The first weeks

They’re phased into school, something I never knew before they started. I’m lucky to now be in a job role where they are incredibly flexible around family life, however in my old job I’ve no idea how I would have managed this. My husband works full time, and I’ve no family around, so I’m thankful for the flexibility, and that our transition was just for 2 weeks, although I know other schools are longer.

I think it was actually within the second week that it hit me she had gone to school, as we no longer had our adventures on a Friday, and that’s what I started to miss.

So much so, that she managed to kick me where it hurts, by sounding disappointed about half term, because she wouldn’t be at school for a week! (We ended up having loads of fun, thankfully! Tip: Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself for that “perfect” half term – I’m just as guilty – but you all need some chill time too!)

Posing because she loved her new school trousers!
Posing because she loved her new school trousers!

The obligatory photo

I vowed never to be the one who took ‘that photo’. But day 1, and it had to be done. It was a really proud mama moment, and I couldn’t believe my little lady was entering the big wide world. just remember to blur out the school name 🙂

The obligatory First Day photo. I couldn't help but share! Sign from LittleBooLearning!
The obligatory First Day photo. I couldn’t help but share! Sign from LittleBooLearning!

The behaviour

Well, I thought Lily would be OK, as she was used to long days in preschool, so I was pretty sure she would love school. However, I was not prepared for her crashing and burning when she got home.

She would get home, eat for England (despite claiming she did eat at school!), then most nights would just be a complete and utter devil child – whining, screaming, very upset, moody, clingy…. my usually happy child would drive me to tears with her behaviour!

After-school quiet time with her Sylvanian Families!
After-school quiet time with her Sylvanian Families!

Apparently this is completely normal, and even at the parents’ evening, her teacher said it is completely normal, with parents coming to her in tears too. They’ve been so good at school, new rules, new people, new chaos, new information, that when they get home, they know they can “let go” of that, and are totally exhausted.

Thankfully now we are 8 weeks into term, she is generally far better and it is much easier, but I can definitely tell when she is extra tired and needs some sleep.

She’s always proud when she gets a sticker from school!

Homework – not just for the kids!

I need a P.A. just to keep on top of everything for school.

With about 3-4 letters / push notifications / texts a day regarding events, flu jabs, phonics evening, parents’ evening, Parent Pay, school dinners, school clubs, parties, dress-down day, fireworks, Vocabulary Day (that was a new one for me!), school trips, paying for all of these on different days in different school locations, art exhibition, and who knows what else, I’ve had more letters in 6 weeks than I have in 6 years… plus need to work out how the message came to us – was it by text? Was it on the app? Maybe it is in my inbox!

It’s a full time job keeping up with everything, not to mention the class WhatsApp group (I’m so thankful for this!!), with daily questions on what we’re meant to bring in, conflicting information from different people getting different notifications, what they’re meant to wear… what day of the week even is it…?!

The weekly homework for mama too!

It’s great they’re keeping us updated, but I’m so worried I’m going to forget something, and have even invested in a giant wall planner (cheaper than a PA) to keep up.

With PE on Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday, homework due on Thursday, library day on a Monday, reading diary, sounds passport, and working on the homework prep, phonics each night, and prepping outfits for events, I’m definitely going to forget something one day! Did I even pay for the pantomime visit?

Then there’s the pressure – do I look a bad mum for putting Teddy Faces in her school trip packed lunch, will I be judged on her crappy Vocabulary Day outfit, do the teachers judge me if I’ve spilled coffee on the reply slip?

Apparently Vocabulary Day is a well-known thing.... something else I didn't know about!
Apparently Vocabulary Day is a well-known thing…. something else I didn’t know about!

Star Bear

Every school has their own little mascot, and you’ll feel immense pride that first moment they bring them home. The joy and excitement on Lily’s face when she was the “chosen one” to bring Star Bear home was just amazing.

Tired face but so proud of coming home with him!
Tired face but so proud of coming home with him!

But as the evening went on, I was soon filled with a slight dread – would we be the ones who would unintentionally destroy this age-old bear, this school tradition? Would Lily be the one who accidentally lands his hand-knitted scarf into a muddy ditch, or lose the carefully crafted bag it came with?

The questions continued.

Whose house has he been in? He’s pretty old. Has he ever been washed? Will he fall apart if I wash him?

It would have been rude not to give him a poppy, right?!
It would have been rude not to give him a poppy, right?!

He also came with a diary. We have to take photos and share our adventures with Star Bear. Will the teachers judge me for what we get up to at the weekend? Would other parents judge me from my photos when they see our diary entry?

I know there should be immense pride at Lily being the star to bring him home, but oh I do look forward to next Wednesday when he can be delivered (hopefully) safely back to school!

The school day

You’re rarely going to know what your child did at school. Whenever I ask her what she did or what she ate, she responds “I don’t know”.

Generally, I find open questions, such as “did you eat any vegetables?” seems to give some more detailed answers, but she shares things when she’s ready and usually when I least expect it, like when she’s on the toilet or you think she’s fallen asleep!

I put this down to her being so exhausted that she just needs to switch off, but it doesn’t help when I only know who pushed who in the playground!

She looks all innocent, but some nights she can be a nightmare!!!

The uniform

There I was, the smug mama back in July, having bought all the uniform, ready to go. Two days into the school term and there I was, frantically rummaging through the Aldi Special Buys aisle, searching for Lily’s size in polo shirts – how could she need even more?!

She often comes back covered in paint, chalk, food, and something mysteriously yellow that I’ve still no idea what it is, and I know these are a sign of a good day, I was just totally unprepared for the amount of uniform she would need, and the fact it would all need ironing too!

Even now, trying to get an extra pair of trousers from the supermarkets is now near impossible. I should have stocked up!

Messy uniform is a sign of a good day. Just make sure you have enough, including those in the laundry cycle!


While we’re on the subject of uniform, in comes the subject of labels.

We bought a whole bundle of stick-on labels, iron-on labels and sew-on labels, and to be totally honest with you, the only ones we’ve run out of are the stick-on labels, because they’re just so much better!

The Stickerkid shoe labels are amazing – bright, colourful, personalised, and long-lasting!

The iron-on labels have all, since, peeled off, the sew-on labels were just too sew-on for my liking, and the stick-on ones have been fantastic. We were #gifted an amazing pack of stick-on labels from Stickerkid, and we use them on shoes, coats, book-bags, water bottles, PE kit, as well as all her uniform, and have never had any problems.

You can choose the sizes, font, logo, colours, and even what you want to use them for! We use them on bottles, shoes, uniform and more!
You can choose the sizes, font, logo, colours, and even what you want to use them for! We use them on bottles, shoes, uniform and more!

They are such high quality, and with the individualised icons you can use, it means they can instantly recognise their items as their own.

Her teacher mentioned the chaos of 26 children trying to get changed for PE in one room, with matching clothing. They’re 4, so not going to search for their name in their clothes! But with these sticky labels, it means they can instantly recognise their clothes and shoes as their own.

I’ve been really lucky to have been offered a discount on labels for anyone who reads this, so feel free to use promo code 3amdiary10 before 23rd November at the checkout over at Stickerkid for your own personalised labels.

Kids can clearly identify their clothes with the bright, colourful labels and their choice of image too!
Kids can clearly identify their clothes with the bright, colourful labels and their choice of image too!