With one child heading off to high school in the new year, one going into grade five and one just about to start prep, Renée Meier has a fair bit of primary school experience under her belt. She shares her reflections of seven years of parenting a primary school student.
As I sat at our kindy “graduation” I watched the tears and nervous angst of those parents whose first born was about to embark on their primary school journey. I realised it isn’t just a big move for those children, but also their parents who are entering new territory.
I’ve been reflecting on my primary school years thus far and what I have learnt in those seven years. Here is what I would tell those nervous new primary school parents:
Get everyone into a routine
I confess to being a bit hit and miss with this over the years but when I have a good morning and afternoon routine in place everything runs more smoothly. Kids are really tired when they start school so a routine keeps everything ticking over and helps to avoid meltdowns (for both kids and parents!)
Have a school paperwork system
Before you become a school parent you really have no idea how much paper gets sent home. Most schools have reminder systems in place but having a system of checking bags and organising school notes will help your sanity immensely.
Follow the school’s social media accounts
Join the school Facebook page and download whatever app or reminder system they have in place for the aforementioned reasons. Parents from your particular year level may even have a Facebook group which can also be a great source of general information.
Get the full story before you react
Your kids will come home with tales of pure horror. They are dramatic like that. A teacher may have said something in class or a peer may have hurt them. Before you march up to the school calling for blood, try to get more details from a number of reliable sources. If there is a real issue, try to address it calmly with the relevant teacher before taking things further. Things can happen but open communication and a receptive attitude is the best way to work with the school to ensure the issue is dealt with.Always keep in mind the school wants the best for your child too.
Not every teacher you get will be wonderful
On the whole primary school teachers are amazing but they are still only human. They have their own personalities and teaching styles. Sometimes your child will get a teacher that they don’t gel with. My children and I have loved particular teachers that other families have not liked. This is all part of building your child’s resilience and teaching them about dealing with different people. Afterall we can’t always choose who we work with. However, if there are major personality clashes or you think your child is being disadvantaged by being in a particular class then talk to the school administration about a possible change.
Make friends with other parents
This is something I hadn’t really considered when I became a new school mum. I was more worried about my child’s social life than mine. However, the friends that I made in those early years have become the most invaluable support network. They help out with the school run, remind me of important dates, cheer on my kids at events I can’t attend and are generally there for me through life’s ups and downs. Bonus – our kids are great friends so it makes playdates enjoyable for the grown ups too!
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Notes will get lost, kids will go to school in yesterday’s uniform because you didn’t get time to wash and your best intentions for 100% healthy lunchbox may fall by the wayside sometimes. Chill out. We are all just trying our best.
Starting school is just as big a milestone for parents as it is for kids. Primary school is a whole new world – an ecosystem of its own which you will become immersed in as your child progresses through the years.
To get the most out of your child’s primary school years, get involved in as much as your schedule allows. Help out on excursions, attend sports days and assemblies occasionally. Your kids will appreciate it and so will the wider school community.
I’m surprised to confess I actually enjoy being a primary school parent. If your child is starting school in the new year, I hope you do too.
Renée Meier is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and mother to three rambunctious children. When she’s not being distracted by social media or drinking copious amounts of coffee, Renée can be found wandering along one of her beautiful local beaches with her two dogs. Her lifelong dream is to earn enough money to afford a housekeeper.