Blog post

Starting school: the stay and play session

June 26, 2019

We just had our stay and play session ahead of starting primary school in September, so here’s a little bit about what happened, three lessons I’ve learned and some mistakes not to make.

For anyone who has a child starting primary school this September – Waaa! Where does time go? That’s my BABY etc etc – what kind of settling-in / meet-the-teacher sessions do you have? Do you have a home visit from the head? A primary school play session? A series of play sessions followed by a picnic?

Starting primary school - the stay and play session for pre-scholers

For our primary school one thing they DON’T have is a teacher home visit. I know this well because first-time-round we watched the Topsy and Tim start school episodes religiously. And in them, Topsy and Tim have a home visit. So we kind of presumed that’s what happened.

‘When’s my home visit?’ Four-year-old Eliza asked each day, looking hopefully at the door for a joy-bearing teacher with stickers.

But yeah, our school doesn’t do the home visit. Try explaining that to an excited four-year-old. Again and again. Thanks for NOTHING, Topsy and Tim (don’t make my mistake of presuming and find out before you tell them, PS).

Second-time-round we were more prepared and knew that a stay-and-play session – where the children spend a few hours in the school meeting the teacher, and the parents get to look around – is actually what they have.

F was excited about the stay-and-play session and is actually more excited than I expected about school. She’s been there twice a day most days for pick-up. She has that little sister thing of wanting to be a big kid like her big sister. And specifically, she’s excited about a) the Reception rabbits and b) getting to have hot chocolate after the school’s forest school session (forget the great outdoors, forbidden sugary snacks are where it’s at when you’re four).

I, however, was mildly worried about my attached child, who drags me around soft play by the leg, actually wanting to go off into the grown-up unknown by herself. So was bracing myself.

As it turned out, the lure of the rabbits was greater than me and I needn’t have worried. As we entered the classroom, the teacher beckoned her over and off she went to play. Leaving me behind to wail ‘But THAT’S MY BABY!’ to all the teachers we knew.

The parents then had a talk in the hall where I learned, most importantly, forest school, and hot chocolate, doesn’t actually start till January. Yikes.

In fact it all went so well I was amazed. Until the next day when she woke up and told me she’d decided not to go to school, she would much rather stay and play at home with me instead. Oh.

So, to finish up, three lessons I’ve learned about the primary school stay and play session:

It might not be as bad as you think (or it might be worse, who knows).

It’s probably more emotional for you than them. Related: if you meet a mum wailing BUT THAT’S MY BABY, it might be me.

Don’t promise hot chocolate if you can’t deliver till 2020.

More posts….Eliza’s stay and play session (how young do we both look? Babies!) And my child’s starting school and I’m terrified / excited

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