01 February 2011

new mum school tips from a professional school gate mum

Greetings all,
Welcome to February & commencing/ resuming the school year.
 Before you know it, those gorgeous little babies you raise . . . head off to preschool & school & high school!!
my baby boy is in year 2, that's upstairs in the senior block

Forgive the presumptuous title of this post, but . . . I’m playing new mum this year too, at high school.  It will be the 9th school (including 5 different preschools in 3 different states & territories) for our children.  I have questions too . . . do high school mums go to the gate or is that just unnecessary & embarrassing??  I’m open to advice.
For those of you in my experienced field, primary school, here are some tips for school gate which might be useful.  Starting with the first day . . .
Be confident & positive, it will keep your child calm & interested in their first big day at school, even if YOU have to fake it & you’re actually a trembling mess.  My 4 all had 2-2.5years each of preschool, so the idea of a backpack, a ‘classroom’, a lunch box & me leaving them for 4-6 hours was normal.  I was enthusiastic but not over the top, each child took on their first day of primary school quite differently.  When our first daughter (& i) started kindergarten (NSW), she was horrified they didn’t get maths text books & learn how to read on the first day – her expectations were high. Day 2, she asked if I could just ‘drop her off in the street’ & day 3, could she catch a bus??!!  She was out there on her own starting from scratch & she loved it!!
When my twins started Transition (NT) they had each other, one extremely excited about the new adventure, her twin a little quiet, but she had her best friend by her side.  The following year in a new school, day one our quiet one couldn't find anyone (including her sister) to play with at recess, a teacher introduced her to new girl Emily & they have been best friends ever since.
My son had the huge advantage of starting primary school (ACT) with half his PreSchool class. After all those years & schools picking up his sisters, he was desperate to have his own school uniform, bag, class & journey.  He announced later that day he was going to marry his teacher - ONE DAY it took him to realise he could grow up & marry someone other than me (creepy but sweet mother-son concept)!! 
Some tips for the rest of the year . . .
School mummies are the greatest, they have local children the same ages & stages as yours!!  Some will be competitive, miserable, hilarious & fun - just like every other school, job, group or family you're associated with - there are some you will love & some you'll want to avoid.  Without being clicky or exclusive, if you hang around the school gate, you might notice you form a 'group'.  Don't be afraid to introduce yourself & join in.
Your school's P&C might be happy go lucky or extremely political, be prepared for anything, but perhaps not sign yourself up as president until you've sussed out the committment & vibe first.
Have an interesting blurb ready about who you are, it might be so much more than you standing in the playground with other children hanging off you & having "just a mum" stamped on your forehead.  Think up a fun, whitty, subtle description of who are you without making it sound like a CV.   
 Volunteer on fundraisers, craft classes, canteen & changing readers etc, they are all ice breakers & your children love knowing you're 'at school' too.  Don't go too hard too soon or you might find yourself making all the costumes for the school play & running fundraisers solo!!
Try to set an easy-friend-making example to your children & introduce yourself to a few parents. This is not some full on power networking alpha mum thing (however, you'll see those mums), but a nice way to learn some names to say hello to.
Be on time, you will be judged & arriving late will only have you flustered & your child rushed.
Avoid the negative parents, they'll sign you up for petitions & letter writing a hate-fest about the school.  Even if you have your own issues, sort it out directly & quickly.  You'll realise the negative ones do have the option of changing schools but NO school will EVER be good enough for their precious child & never see that their child is the common denominator.  
Be prepared that some children will have allergies with hesitant & careful mothers.  Be open & ask lots of questions & don't panic (it's not you) if the mother says yes to a play date but hangs around to ensure their child is safe.
Get to know your teachers, if there are any issues from their running out pencils & bullying to notes not being signed & acadmic progress, it's SO much easier for everyone if the teachers know who you are & can chat to you easily before things get complicated.
The party dilemma - do you invite a few close friends or the entire class??  Do you invite someone to your party just because they invited you to theirs??  Early on i just invited the whole class to home parties, we have used small schools which also helps this issue.
If you only have one child at school & a mum you know offers to car pool, this might be brilliant, especially if you have younger ones who still nap.  I had this situation when i had one in preschool & 3 little ones at home, a fellow mummy of 4 helped me out!!
If your school allows it, let your children play after school to get all their school-ness out of their system.  We have a 25km drive home so i let my guys run around & play with friends.  Things will change this year as we have high school finishing at 3.30p.m. for a pick up across town.
I could write a million things but my little routine consists of . . . packing school bags (homework, show&tell, hats) & laying out uniforms the night before; children eating breakfast while i make their lunches; i tidy up the house before we leave so i return to an orderly home (it's self respect) then we all hop in the car with a 15 minute traffic buffer & chat all the way to school, together.  It's just me & the children so i keep things calm, routine & stream lined.  Doing 3 girls long hair every day can have serious unforeseen challenges, hair elastics disappear in houses like pens. 
Most of all, enjoy with big kisses, cuddles & i-love-yous at the beginning & end of their school days, love Posie

18 comments:

Catherine said...

I love your post:) Great tips in there for sure for new mums and us old mums too;) My big girl started highschool last week and she has been acceptable to having my hubby walk her to her form class but absolutely only small hugs goodbye are permitted. We are slowly working towards being dropped off and picked up at the front of the school, it takes time with my poppet but she's getting there. I hope the first day goes well for all your children. xo

Naturally Carol said...

Hi Posie...just a note to say that high schoolers will inevitably tell you exactly where to drop them off and pick them up...especially if you choose the wrong place! It may also change over time...but usually they won't keep you guessing. Have a great school year.

Taylor Made said...

You have some fantastic advice...there are so many things to take on board at the start of a new school year. All the best with your guys and the mumma too.

Brenda said...

I have two friends who's daughters started high school yesterday.......neither of the mum's were allowed to get out of the car and walk the girls to the gate! That's way too embarrassing!!

mel @ loved said...

I love this posie! I have not been allowed anywhere near my big boy at school for years, though I go quietly and hover in the background. I think I will cry even more when he starts high school than when he started prep, though he's only in grade 4 this year (only??!!) time to prepare...

Tammi said...

Great post with great tips :)
Most of the time my high school boys would walk themselves to school...it's literally across the road, but they were more than happy for me to walk with them if I was going to the library. My girl starts tomorrow and has asked if she can meet up with friends and go with them. Each child is different and will set the boundaries that they are comfortable with.
Good luck to you all :)
x

Christina said...

What a fantastic post and thoughtful advice. I will be coming back to this post when the time comes!

All the best with your schooling adventures this year too.

xx

Maxabella said...

Good on you, Posie. Spot on and so needed today. x

Jacinta @ modelmumma said...

These are great Posie! Not ready for it just yet but I gotta remember to be confident and go say hello to other mum's. I should do that now when I'm out and about and not be so scared/anti social! :)
And err... totally do NOT hang out at the gate for your high school child because that's uncool. ;) hehe

My Love is..... said...

beautiful post!

Laura, Happy Homemaker UK said...

I am so glad to be past all of this with my kids a little old. But I will not forget how stressful it used to be :)

MultipleMum said...

What a great post Posie. I wish I had your advice before Nugget started last year (alas I had to find it all out on my own). Agree wholeheartedly with you. You are one experienced school-Mum! Good luck unlocking the high-school code. Let us know what you find out :)

Miss Prudence said...

great tips Posie - reading it makes me feel very sure that we made the right decision to resist starting a family whilst Mr G was still in the forces - Mr G moved schools a bit and wasn't keen on passing this onto his progeny. And I feel very blessed that we live in an area where we are zoned for numerous wonderful schools and high school next year is one of the best state schools in Melbourne.....Good luck with high school, I hear Mummies don't get a look in here - but you still have have plenty of time at PS...

gREAT POST pOSIE

Sally said...

Great post Jennie. Thanks!!! ... my boy starts kindy at the local primary school this week. Wowa! I'm more nervous than he his.

... and don't go to the gate @ high school (advice given in capacity as former high school teacher!) Oh the shame!!!

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Oh Jennie how right you are...our children grow up so fast and before you know it they have finished school!!! Enjoy every mummie moment...Dzintra

cheeky textiles said...

Your amazing Jennie how do you find the time but i love reading your post and seeing what you have been up too. My big boy starts school next week he and I are very excited. thanks for all the georgous tips. your fab.xx

The Clip Cafe said...

Thanks Mum :-) Not at high school yet for us (please pass on your tips next year!) xx

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