Starting school - what every parent really needs to know

First day of school Picture: Thinkstock

First day of school Picture: Thinkstock - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Parent, teacher and blogger Sally White has tips to help you start the new school year at the top of the class

For many of us, the school summer holidays are in full swing. We are enjoying the calmer starts to the day but also missing the convenience of Breakfast Club. For others, though, there's a ticking clock in the background. The countdown until The First Day of School. In all the heart ache and feelings of a child starting school, it might not dawn on you that you'll be on your own learning journey. The lessons will come thick and fast and so I'm here - the York Notes of School Rules for Parents, if you will.

School Gates Politics

Give consideration and care to where you stand at that first drop off and pick up as that shalt be thy spot forever more. Choose somewhere sheltered but also in direct eyeline of the classroom door. Be prepared to fight for it and stake a claim. I had the misfortune to end up on a spot that floods but that's my punishment for joining half way through the school year.


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You will never have enough clean polo shirts or sweatshirts. Your child will lose at least 15 water bottles. You will buy more pairs of socks than you've had sleepless nights. Sainsbury's 25% off falls just before school holidays. You're welcome.

Beware the WhatsApp/Facebook groups

A blessing and a curse. Great for information, dangerous for competitive parenting. Some people love them. Some people hate then. Some people never get added to them (me!)

Help Your Tomorrow Self

I know that sounds like something from a life affirmation fridge magnet but it is bloody good advice. Pack the PE kit, fill the water bottles, sign the consent letters and have it all by the front door ready. To paraphrase Scarlett O'Hara, tomorrow is another day and you better be ready for it.


The PTA gets a hard press but fairs and discos involve a monumental amount of work and I respect their efforts. Schools rely on the hard work of governors and PTA for fundraising, now more than ever. So if, like me, you work and/or are chronically lazy, then please consider throwing money at your guilt and writing a cheque or paying a bit more for the mufti day or volunteering to cover a stall once in a while.


As a teacher, I am all too aware how much paperwork and effort goes in to organising a school trip. Primary schools seem to take classes to all sorts of brilliant places so when you pick your child up off the coach at 3pm, please make sure you look that frazzled teacher in the eye and thank them. You'll be horrified how few parents say it but it's so good to hear it once in a while.

Have faith

I know I take my role as loco parentis extremely seriously when I'm at work and I know my son's teacher does too. We adore your children, enjoy their company and want what's best for them so try and have our back. Teachers are humans who are doing their best but we can drop the ball. If you have a concern, address it with them directly and discreetly.

So when your child is in their shiny new uniform and spinning circles in their expensive new school shoes this September, take the picture. Frame it. Notice their happy faces and excited giggles and nervous looks. Hold them tight and wish them well and wave them off from your premium spot by the classroom door. And then walk home for a cup of tea in the quiet of your home and let us teachers work our magic.

For more of Sally's wit and wisdom visit her blog