Back to school: lessons I’ve learned from the first term of primary

January 10, 2017

Are you making the big and scary primary school application for your child this month? We’ve just gone back for the new term which means we are one whole term down into primary proper. It seems really odd to think that it was us last year, nervously pressing send while rocking back and forth, wailing about the passing of time and plotting a move to Denmark.

Things I've learned in the first term of primary school

Oh, just me then?

I’m sure lots of people have sensible and useful advice about picking schools. Instead, here’s nine lessons I’ve learned from several or so weeks of the first term of primary school:

There’s never enough school uniform: Me before school started ‘Will 500 of everything be enough?‘ Me after term started, 10pm most Sunday evenings. ‘Where has it all gone? Is it all in the wash?! How is it possible for it all to vanish?‘ Things go missing from under your nose. Like ties (do they hide along with hair clips?) And here are some suggestions about removing whiteboard pen from clothes. You’re welcome.

It is EXHAUSTING. Seriously tiring. For them…yep, but also YOU. How many things are there to remember? On which day do they do what again? What do they need and when? Good advice: pick a school which sends out parenting information electronically, then you’re in less danger of losing it (or, better placed to find it again in the depths of your inbox rather than the paper sea that floats around the house).

And, best reason to pick a school? Living within close proximity of it. Despite years of this and all these fears, we’ve not been late – in the morning – once, yet, mainly because we live within breathing distance of our local school (see last sentence). I only partly jest; you do spend a big chunk of the day going back and forth, so being within easy reach does help make it slightly easier.

Teachers are magical, and also total heroes: 30 kids all day, five days a week and you can’t put some emergency CBeebies on; what kind of sorcery is this?

Phonics books are a strange and somewhat troubling universe: I can’t imagine how fulfilling your life’s work would be if it included writing the gripping novellas where Sam and Pat go to a dip or Ken sits at the tip (A dip’s not even a thing, yet we had a whole book about it! A whole book!) They do the job though, each short short story at a time. AND…

There is nothing more wonderful than your child reading to you: Coming from this former bookworm, it’s the best thing ever.

Take tissues to the nativity play: Massive blub-fest alert! I started crying the minute the children walked in. The joy, the excitement, the plinky plonky wooden school piano! All the feels.

Pick-up is one of the best parts of the day. Every day. Yet…I’m still not sure I’ll ever get over my fear I’ll completely forget to go.

And finally…

All the things we've learned from the first term of primary school

…the greatest thing I’ve learned from the first term of primary school? The huge relief of never having to discuss school applications again. Not for a couple of years, anyway…

More posts! Spy kids and the secrets of the school day (what exactly does go on in there?) things they DON’T tell you in NCT classes and everything you’ll obsess about in your baby’s first year


  • Julia

    January 10, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Love every word of your lessons learnt and observations. Have completed 40plus years reception teacher now just completed 1st term picking p, attending nativity etc and loving it still

    1. gillian

      January 11, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      It must be amazing being a teacher! I can’t get over how wonderful it must be to know that you’ve taught children to read, what a gift xx

  • Helloitsgemma

    January 13, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Phonics, have you noticed how you know longer spell things out like an adult? Even now, and I have a year 4-er, I still spell things phonically – even my own address on the phone ???????? then apologise and re. Do it normally.

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