Former Reception Teacher & Mumbler Katrin uses her new experiences of Motherhood and her vast experience as a teacher to answer those questions you wish you could ask or be asked as your little ones start school.
I started as a fresh-faced NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) in Reception with the very youngest class, the ones that were all Summer borns, and stayed in Reception for 4 years before I moved on to teach Yr1, mixed aged R/Yr1, Yr1/Yr2 and Year 2 classes.
Each year (before I had my own Mini Mumblers) when the children arrived for their first day of school, the parents would be fighting back tears and I would wonder why they were so sad. “Your children are in wonderful hands,” I would think. I’m not a shouty teacher, I love singing silly songs, telling awful jokes (courtesy of my Dad’s repertoire!), getting them outside and active as much as possible, being there for them when they achieve, being there for them when they don’t. I support learning through play, learning through structure, learning in any way that is best for your child.
I always understood if the children were sad being away from their parents, I didn’t realise it worked the other way round. So, on the first day I would often be a little put out by the parents reaction, knowing how much fun they would have with me, I just didn’t understand it.
I do now.
What I’d like my pre-children Reception teacher self to know…
Don’t be hard on the parents. They’ve kept their little one alive up until now, doing whatever it takes to keep them healthy, fed and loved. They’ve been the ‘go-to’, the one that fixes things, the one that teaches them, the apples in their little one’s eyes. They’re not sad because they’re starting school with you, they’re sad because it’s the end of an era.
For many it’s the end of term-time trips, the end of slower paced weekday mornings, the end of impromptu ‘let’s go have a picnic’ days, the end of being the only ones their little folk rely on.
(Also, you will not believe the SHED loads of school admin parents have to keep up with…cut them some slack if they forget to return the library book for the 2nd week running, or the trip money comes in after deadline and in 50ps. They’re doing their best).
What I’d like parents to know as a former Reception teacher…
Don’t be hard on the teacher. This person lives for their job. They put all of their professional knowledge and personal feelings into doing the best for your child. The time they spend with your child makes up about 10% of the work they actually do, and the time they spend with your child is the best bit. They might not fit in changing the reading book one day because of 140,927 other things that have happened, but know they will do it when they can.
Your child will grow in immeasurable ways during their Reception year because of this teacher. They will learn things you could not teach them, they will see things you will not see and do things they could not do…but they will always come back to you.
What I’d like children to know as a former teacher…
Do things that are hard, this is the best way to learn. Don’t stress the tests, they show a small amount of what you know and don’t show the effort you put in – your parents and teachers know what you can do without them. READ, it will honestly make you smarter in every way possible. You are in charge of your learning, no one else. Ask for help when you need it. Be kind, this is one of the ways you can make your parents the proudest they will be of you.
Oh, and occasionally try and think of one thing that you did at school to tell your parents rather than the standard ‘Nothing’ reply 😀 They miss you.
GOOD LUCK to all the September starter children (and parents…I’m right with you!)