Starting school: 25 tips from parents who’ve already been there

Family life

*in association with Hedrin

There’s nothing quite like the advice of another parent who has been there, done that to help prepare you for a situation – and that’s definitely true if your child is about to start school. I know how nervous and emotional I was this time last year when Little Miss E headed off to reception. I really wish I’d had an article like this to read back then because it would have helped me so much! I’ve been asking my mummy and daddy friends what they wish someone had told them before their child started school and what advice they would give to other parents – and here are the results.

I hope it’s helpful for those of you with little ones starting school. And if you’re an experienced parent of school-aged children, do share any other advice you think other parents would appreciate, either in the comments section below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or you can tweet me on @cardiffmummy


starting school advice


  1. “Get them to practice taking their whole uniform on and off, including shoes, and changing into their PE kit, before they actually start school. My son got really upset in school because he struggled with this. A few practice runs at home, and he was fine!”
  1. “Make sure that they can open all the contents of their packed lunch independently. And for that matter, make sure they can open their packed lunch box; we actually practised quite a bit beforehand.”
  1. “I know it sounds stupid, but really make sure your child knows who to ask if they need the toilet. It might seem obvious to us, but it can be quite overwhelming to them. And don’t be surprised if they have a few ‘accidents’ when they start school. It happens quite a lot!”
  1. “Make sure you’re ready extra early on the first day so you can take some photos of your child in their uniform, both at home and outside the school. Every year, we take a photo next to the school logo on our school gates and it’s really lovely to see how they grow year on year. Also, take a fun photo at the end of the day when their brand new uniform does not look so pristine!”
  1. “If you know any of your child’s new class mates, arrange to meet up with them on the way to school, so that they can go in to the playground knowing someone.”
  1. “Don’t linger at the door if your child won’t go in. Hand off to a teacher and go. It doesn’t do anyone any good to stick around.”
  1. “If possible, don’t be rushing in a panic to school for the first few weeks. If it’s your first child going to school they’re unlikely to be familiar with the playground and school and therefore you want them (and you) to be as calm and relaxed as possible going in.”
  1. “If you know you’re going to be emotional on that first day, make sure you have something planned for after drop-off. I was so grateful to have friends to meet up with, along with my baby, that first morning. I would have probably just gone home and cried all day otherwise!”
  1. “Label everything with your child’s name. Guaranteed your child will forget to bring home their jumper or cardi at least once in the first few weeks.”
  1. “Make extra sure to label shoes. Chances are, half the kids will be kitted out in the same couple of styles from Clarks.”
  1. “Set up a Facebook, email or Whatsap group with the other parents in your child’s class. That way you can keep track of letters coming home you may have missed, ask last-minute questions about homework/dress-up days, keep track of birthday parties – and more importantly, arrange a parents’ night out!”
  1. “Stock up on nit shampoo, as no matter how tight you plait your daughter’s hair, and how far away she keeps her head from other kids, she’ll catch nits at least once a month!”
  1. “Please, please, be honest if your child gets head lice. Please tell the school or the other parents in the class. It makes it so much easier to contain an infestation if parents are warned early. And make sure you check your child’s head once a week for signs of infestation with one of those metal combs.”
  1. “Find out what days your child does PE on and make sure they always have their kit (set a reminder on your phone, if needs be!). You don’t want your child to be the one doing PE in borrowed clothes.”
  1. “Leave a PE kit in school and take it home at half terms to wash.”
  1. “Check if your school has a second hand uniform sale – you can pick up extra uniform, PE bags and pumps, book bags, all for a fraction of the price of the new stuff. Most new uniform ends up looking well worn by the end of the first term anyway!”
  1. “Lots of schools separate children who bring packed lunches from children who have school dinners (in Wales; in England, all pupils receive free school meals in reception, year 1 and 2). It’s worth checking this as it can mean your little one could be separated from their friends at a time when they are feeling a bit overwhelmed.”
  1. “Make an effort to get to know the teaching assistants/learning support assistants as well as the teacher. TAs can provide so much information about how your little one is settling in and getting on generally.”
  1. “As an LSA myself, I would straight away become an approachable parent, ensure the teacher knows you’re always there if they need to speak to you (coming from experience of having to deal with unapproachable parents)! Be safe in the knowledge that if the teacher doesn’t speak to you at the end of the day, your child has had a good day, no need to hang around to check, you will be informed of any concerns.”
  1. “As an LSA, I can’t stress enough, greet your child at the end of the day with open arms, nothing worse than seeing a child run to their parents who are busy looking at their phone, they’ve missed you!”
  1. “Take a drink and a snack for home time. Your child won’t have eaten since lunch, and probably not familiarised themselves with the water fountain yet.”
  1. “Don’t underestimate how tired they will be in that first term. Be prepared to cancel after school activities and bring bedtime forward for a while.”
  1. “Smile at every parent at the gate. Even if you don’t initially get anything back it pays off eventually and you make some lovely new friends along the way.”
  1. “Familiarise yourself with the sickness policies in advance so that if you know there is a bout of something going around you know how long you may need to make alternative arrangements for should your child come down with it.”
  1. “If you’re used to daily reports from nursery or childminders, it can be quite strange to suddenly not get any feedback from your child. I really wanted to know what my daughter had been up to all day, but just got the usual ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t remember’. I found asking specific questions helped, such as ‘Who did you sit by at lunch time?’ ‘Did you sing any songs today?’ helped get a better response.

Any tips you’d add to this list? Do let me know either in the comments section below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or you can tweet me on @cardiffmummy

With thanks to Craig, Nicola, Abby, Laura, Vicky, Sian, Charlotte, Joanne, Cath, Joy and Jennifer

This post is sponsored by Hedrin, the number one head lice brand in the UK. They have three treatment products and one prevention product (Hedrin Protect and Go). They also provide materials for schools to help eradicate reoccurring infestations. You can find out more here:

starting school advice



You might also like these posts on The shoes that made me cry; First Day At School – A Poem; Oh cr*p! I’ve got head lice!


*photo of crayons from

4 Comments to Starting school: 25 tips from parents who’ve already been there

  1. Great tips! I’ve done it all before but I’m still nervous about my second one starting reception in September. I am preparing myself for her being super tired!!

  2. There are some lovely tips here – especially about meeting up with a friend so your child doesn’t have to walk in alone … It must be so daunting for them.
    Alana x

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