My Top Tips for Surviving Your Child’s First Year at School

As we come to the end of the current school year, I’m taking a moment to look back on all the pressures and worries I had this time last year but also at the amazing progress Isabella has made. Although scary, it’s a brilliant experience, as long as you are prepared.

The thought of Isabella (being a summer born baby – and our first-born) going to school just 8 days after she turned four was terrifying for me. We didn’t know how she would cope emotionally, physically and knowing we would also have to make use of the wrap around care on offer two days a week was a real worry for us. She’s always been a little more emotional and I worried she would find it too much pressure.

Having to use wrap around care meat that on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this meant Isabella was going to be in school from 7:45am until 4:30pm – they were such long days for such a small person. But she managed. She took it all in her stride. She even enjoyed herself. We all survived the first year!

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy to manage though. There have been definite hiccups along the way; one week both my husband and my mum turned up to school ready to pick Isabella up and the following week I had a phone call from the school to say that no one had arrived. THAT FELT AWFUL! It really was the worst feeling ever. This horrible moment actually forced me to re-evaluate my working hours and thankfully, we have managed to find a solution to reduce my hours further.

My biggest tip for survival: have a solid routine

Children like to know what’s happening; they thrive off routine. The initial process of getting into your new routine was always going to be a little tough but it was well worth it. One way to ensure it’s a smooth process is sticking to the routine that works for YOUR FAMILY. We have early risers and both children tend to wake up at around 6:30am. We roll with it – although we encourage Isabella to stay in her room until 7am because she is tired. When we are up, we have a drink of milk (or coffee!) before getting dressed and ready for the day.

Our weekday morning routine is slightly different daily but remains the same each week helping to cement a routine. Monday means that Nana takes the children to school for 9am while we both leave for work, Tuesday and Wednesday mean Daddy takes Isabella to breakfast club for 7:45am while I take Benjamin to the childminder and Thursday and Friday are our relaxed days where I take Isabella to school for 9am and then have some quality time with Benjamin. Isabella knows exactly who is taking her to school each morning and we also have a more consistent pick up routine so there are no more forgetful accidents!

As well as morning routines, I feel it’s so important to have a good bedtime routine too. Both of the children go to bed at 7pm whether that’s a weekday or weekend. It gives them both time to rest and recoup after a busy week and means they aren’t over tired, grumpy and challenging the following week. Our bedtime routine stays the same too – we start with a bath and then we read before bed. Isabella is learning to read so she reads her school book before we read stories to her too. This ensures they are clam and relaxed before we say goodnight.

Quick tips

  • Start the year with 5 t-shirts and at least 3 jumpers and bottoms so you aren’t worried about keeping up with the laundry! We were going through t-shirts by the day for some months!
  • Lay their uniform out for them the night before so it encourages independent dressing in the morning.


  • Help teach your child (if they don’t already know) how to perform the simple tasks like zipping coats themselves, doing their own shoes up and getting dressed correctly so they can be more independent from the start.


  • Stick matching pictures or name labels into the inside of your child’s shoe – we had a couple of occasions where Isabella came home with shoes that were two sizes too big!


  • Label all clothes, drinks bottles, lunch boxes if you need one and any school equipment they might need! Everything seems to get muddled up at least once or twice and on more than one occasion, Isabella has left her coat or jumper outside after lunch. It made its way to lost property but it made it easier to find. (we used iron on clothes labels and stick on labels for water bottles etc).

  • Use a message board to pin all the important letters/dates for your diary. It’s very easy to lose track of important dates with all the letters that come home for various reasons.


  • Try to teach your child how to spell or recognise their name – this is important so that your child can recognise their belongings, books, coat peg etc.


How far Isabella has come in a year

Having begun her school journey only being able to write her name in capital letters, Isabella is now writing her full name in lower case letters, short, basic sentences (many of the more difficult words she still writes phonetically) and she has just started to use full stops in the last week.

(I made a t-shirt for Daddy)

Before starting in reception, Isabella was unable to read anything but her name and the words Mummy and Daddy. Now she can read lots of individual words, short sentences with simple words and is really trying hard to excel in her reading.

Counting has always been a stronge subject for Isabella and she is able to count up to 70 (100 if I prompt the beginning of 80 and 90). She can do simple addition, subtraction, and rocognises her shapes well.

She is just starting to learn how to tell the time. She is able to read all the O’Clock’s but nothing else.

I’m so happy with the progress she has made in this first year, I can’t wait to see what year 1 has I store for us. We will continue to stick to a routine and work at finding ways to help Isabella with the new struggles she will face in the coming year.



  1. Aww! Bless her. It sounds like your girl has done so well. It is a worry when they are summer born. My girl was born on the 29th August. Eek! I think the first year is always the hardest but it sounds like you have done great. Enjoy the summer x

    • It is so worrying but I’m so pleased with her progress! We will just have to see how she gets on ass the next stage approaches! 🙂

  2. Great tips and perfect timing! My daughter starts preschool in a few weeks so perfect timing!

  3. Aww it looks like she has done so well. Her writing is lovely. My daughter is just finishing reception too. So daunting to start with isn’t it but they adapt so well x

  4. This is SO handy for me. Thank you for sharing your tips! My Little Man starts school this September and it all feels very alien!! Thanks so much for linking up to #TriumphantTales – hope to see you again on Tuesday!

Speak Your Mind