Starting school: 10 tips for a successful reception year

When I started drafting this post it was definitely still term time, and now we’re well into the holidays already … I can scarcely believe that we’ve completed the whole first year of reception and am extremely proud of Pip. I remember this time last year though having loads of questions and worries, so I thought I’d try and look back on some of the things which we’ve learnt this year which might make someone else’s summer a little less stressful. (You can also read some of my initial reflections here).

What to expect

1. Pip has been going to full time nursery for years so she was used to leaving us – I was surprised by how long some of the other children took to get used to it. At least one of the children in Pip’s class was still struggling by half term but it gradually wore off and I think she was an unusual case. I guess don’t have any expectations and just work with your child.

2. My friend Gill at A Baby on Board, whose daughter also started reception this year says “Don’t underestimate how much sleep they need, even though it’s a shorter day than nursery – and how hungry they get” and I would agree – Pip whines for a snack every evening despite being fed plenty at after school club.

3. Don’t expect them to tell you anything. When questioned Pip would always say “don’t know” or “can’t remember” but by the end of reception she can read, write, count to a hundred and questions everything. Have faith that they are doing things and learning things.

What to buy

I’m a pretty detailed focused person and like to be prepared – it’s a good idea to start well ahead of time to make sure you’re not frantically rushing around on 3 September. You might have been wondering about how much is needed and how many options to buy. Obviously each school will be different, and will depend on whether you have uniform, and how much each item costs to buy but, for what it’s worth, we found the following:

4. Enough tops/tshirts so that there is theoretically one for every day. Pip found that she didn’t really want to wear a cardigan or sweatshirt, so she wore a logo-ed tshirt with a plain longsleeve top underneath. We only had 3 of the school tshirts, so I did spend the winter doing more washing than I’d have liked, and vowed for the next year I’d get more options. At Pip’s new school, I think she needs to wear blouses, so we’ve just picked up these darling peter pan collared ones.

5. Summer options from the start of the September term. We assumed that it would be winter uniform straight away but it can be quite hot in September still, so it can be a good idea to pick up at least one checked dress/shorts option now whilst the summer uniform is still in the shops.

6. A selection of options for the bottom half – I found George at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco to be perfectly serviceable quality and great prices, with Debenhams, M&S and John Lewis also having nice options. Pip liked some culottes I found in M&S which made a great alternative. Our school wasn’t too bothered by colour of the bottoms so on a couple of occasions she wore a lightweight chambray skirt in the summer to go with the school tshirt when a logo was required (trips etc).

7. We had at least 5 pairs of tights (I have to admit I bought cotton & then wool ones from Denmark at considerable price a pair but they kept her warm and toasty and crucially not sweaty like the cheap supermarket ones which she seemed to find upsetting) plus 5 pairs navy knee high socks from M&S and then 5 pairs of white frilled ankle socks for summer. And I still felt like I was constantly washing/looking for the bloody things.

8. Shoes – we’ve been trying some online options now that we’ve moved further away from the shops – Debenhams have a good range of school shoes and with currently 20%, it’s a pretty easy way to get sorted. Debenhams kindly sent us some options which we’ve been trying on at home – easy to send back if they don’t fit, or they don’t work, and much nicer than braving the queues in person come September.

Other tips

9. Label everything! I am old school so I bought Cash’s name tapes but there are many less time consuming options. Whatever you choose, label everything that they take, remember what they take with them, and prepare to spend some time chasing after items that have somehow misplaced. In reception, the lost property pile was huge with parents looking through it every week!

10. Beware nits! This is one of my top tips which I shared with Motherhood, the Real Deal: “Get a nitty gritty comb and some Childs Farm detangler and comb weekly. We do ours on a Sunday night. Much less stressful and time consuming than suddenly realising your family has headlice because you never thought to prevent it! – The Little Pip ”

Thanks to Debenhams for the shoes & school shirts and dress.

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1 Comment

  1. Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) August 23, 2017 / 7:17 am

    Buying a top for each day is such a good tip. They’re usually very reasonable priced. Gorgeous shoes!

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