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First day at primary school

Every primary school organises the first day slightly differently and it’s unlikely that the whole class will all start at the same time. You may find that your child begins with shorter days that gradually increase, or that they may not be at school every day during the first week as different groups of children have their first day.

However your school organises things, there’s lots you can do to help make the first day successful.

The night before
  • Get everything ready. Double-check that all clothes and bags are labelled, lay out your child’s uniform and have bags packed and ready for the morning. This will leave time for any last-minute talks or perhaps a special breakfast.
  • Talk about the exciting day ahead. Remind your child about the fun things waiting for them at school, but also talk them through what to do if they aren’t sure about anything or have any worries (and go over what to do if they need the loo again).
Going to school
  • Leave plenty of time to get there. Rushing to get everyone ready and out of the door in the morning is part of being a parent, but getting there nice and early on the first day will help it to be an enjoyable experience for you and your child.
  • Take a photo. Well, it’s their first day at school!
  • Say a (quick) goodbye. It’s best to keep the goodbye as quick and free from drama as possible. Remind them that you’ll pick them up using language they’ll remember (‘just after you’ve had lunch’ or ‘after story time’) and tell them to enjoy themselves. If your child becomes upset, try to remain calm. Stay for a short time and then slip away. The staff will be experienced at dealing with upset children, and will soon have your child distracted and busy doing something exciting. The school will contact you if they remain upset.
  • Say hello to other parents. You might know some of the other parents in the playground already, but if not, go and say hello. Getting to know other parents can be a great support and depending on who your child makes friends with, you might be seeing a lot of each other over the next few years.
  • Plan something to do. If you don’t have to rush off to work, it can be a good idea to have something planned to distract you from worrying about how things are going. Your child will be having a great time, so try not to fret!

Hopefully your child will have a perfect first day and will fall in love with school straight away – but don't panic if that doesn't happen! It may take your child some time to adjust to their new routine, and that is fine. Remember to be positive and supportive however your child finds their first day, and they find their feet before you know it.

Starting school checklist

We've put together a handy checklist of things to do over the summer to help your child get ready for primary school. Download it and stick it to your fridge, then tick off each item as you get closer to their first day, from labelling their school uniform to trips to the park!