How was the first day, for you?

Nell racing crabs during the summer - but that doesn't make her too small to go into Year 6.

After three months travelling and homeschooling my two girls have to go back to school. That’s the plan anyway. Today Nell, 10, held my hand and whispered her fear so her sister wouldn’t hear it. “Mummy I feel too small to be Year 6.”

It’s a wobble I remember Lola, now 13, having too. Her anxiety was spun out of orbit when her lovely teacher Nicola Denton, now the head of a Brent primary, reassured her that she will always be herself. “You don’t have to feel you are a Year 6, you are just you.”

How much more frightening to be going into nursery for the first time, or Reception, Year 1 or the dreaded Year 7 at secondary school. But it’s not really. The schools are genius at making their students welcome – the fears are hugely generated by us mums (and dads).

How will they cope?
Of course we think our little kids are too small to be turned into pack animals, made to study from 9am-3pm, etc. We’ll be thinking that at their weddings probably too. It may even be why so many of us – around the world – still try and cook up a favourite meal for Little Jasmine (now a pensioner)… That sounds so old fashioned, let’s try, we’ll be thinking that when we see them on TV as graduates and long-established members of the working world speaking out as human rights lawyers or running a geothermal company.

I saw the pix on Facebook… Don’t worry, those little kids (even the big ones) who come back from big school after the first day everyone’s dreaded can still be called your baby.

Normally in Homemade Kids, my book on thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children, which you can pick up off Amazon, or order at your local library, I share loads of ideas to make parenting a bit easier and nicer too for the child. But today it’s time to treat yourself.

However that big day went, you – and maybe you and your partner – should offer a celebratory toast. With butter, with wine or a nice cuppa, whatever works for you. You’ve done a great job, now it’s time to share your child with a bigger world and there’s a pretty darn good chance that they will benefit hugely from it (in the long run), as indeed so will you.

Start an achievements book
Meanwhile at Mayhem Corner we’re still waiting for the new term to start – it’s tomorrow. So tonight my kids need to feel special. I’m planning to serve up pizza and have prepared them each an A4 certificate listing all the countries they’ve travelled to this summer, and all the incredible things they’ve done or learnt. It’ll hopefully get placed in their achievements book – an A4 plastic-leaved folder full of swimming certificates, school merit awards and info that shows they’ve worked at something, and done well at it.

This tip came from an experienced mum of older teenagers who said having an achievements book, even if it just had a date when the tot learnt to ride a bike or swim a few metres, made all the difference to the mental state of a teenager ready to believe that they couldn’t do anything. It’s also why I always give the kids I teach riding (it’s a once a week treat for me too, teaching riding) a certificate stating all the things they are good at (even if it is just smiling or turning up), and a nice pic of a favourite pony.

Your turn now
So if you are a parent, don’t forget to congratulate yourself. The first day has passed, bravo. And if you are ever in a teaching role see what magic you can work on your PC so your students know that you know they are doing well, and learning. All the hard work is worth it.

One final thought – no one ever puts the age they were when they learnt to read on their c/v. Surely you didn’t? So if your child is slow don’t worry, unless you know there is a reasonable need to do so.

Enjoy this new stage: September is a turning point for so many of us.

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