New Reception Starters

(33 Posts)
101SpottyDogs Sun 19-Jul-20 11:27:16

I would really appreciate if someone could let me know if I am over reacting at the schools plan for DD who will be starting reception in September.

Letters were sent in May informing us that the usual things they would do to ease the children in would not be done (the teacher usually visits the preschool twice to get to know them, read them a story etc and then there are two visits to the school with a parent present where they can see the classrooms etc) however no mention was made of what would be done but I naively assumed they either had a plan or were working on one.

Speaking to parents at other schools many had had lovely phone calls from the teachers, zoom calls and even visits from the teacher to the house to meet the children on the doorstep (socially distantced of course).

A week ago I received a phone call from her teacher. It was very short and formal, she told me I could look on the school website and show DD a video of her reading a story but did not ask any questions about DD, how she was doing nor did she ever reference DD by name. I understand she had a lot of these calls to make but it really didn't feel personal at all. She asked me if I had any concerns, but it felt more like a formality than like she really cared. I said I was concerned generally about DD going to school after being at home for 5 and a half months and with her being one of the younger ones in the year but nothing specifically. The teacher said they would send more details of the plan for September.

On Friday I received an email with instructions for DD starting at the beginning of September. We have to drop her off for a 1.5 hr session and then the next day she is in half days with lunch. We are instructed that me must drop off and leave immediately, we must not hang around.

So I have to drop DD off at a building she's never been into before with people she's never met and I mustn't hang around and that's it? Of course this was sent at the end of the day so by the time I saw the email and called to discuss it the school was closed for the holidays.

I understand that COVID has made things more difficult and it was not going to operate as usual but it just feels like no regard has been given to the children out of a nursery/pre school setting for so long and then thrown into this new and scary environment.

Am I massively over reacting? How has your school dealt with setting reception starters in? I'm getting really upset about it all.

OP’s posts: |
lufcaregoingup Sun 19-Jul-20 11:35:42

My DD is starting in September and didn't attend the school nursery so won't know any other kids. She starts full time on her first day. Staggered pick up and drop offs. We had a zoom meeting with her teachers and head teacher last month. Also picked up a learning pack with pictures of her classroom and some things for her to learn over the summer.

I am a little worried when I drop her off as hasn't been in any nursery setting since March but we've had conversations about what she should expect. If she tells me any concerns I'll be pulling one of the teachers at a distance chat if I have to.

Aroundtheworldin80moves Sun 19-Jul-20 11:57:19

When DD1 started school, we moved house on the Wednesday, visited the school on the Friday.. and she started full time on the Monday. Ful time,as she had already missed the first month.
DD2.. moved into new house on the Thursday. Was invited to meet headteacher on the Friday. Term started Tuesday. Dropped them both at school gate (no parents allowed on grounds). Part time for the first few days, Friday was full day. From the Wednesday she went on the School bus.

It sounds impersonal.. but it was honestly fine. The teachers know it will be harder this year, but it's about overall safety.

back2good Sun 19-Jul-20 12:12:53

Well, it was clear that the school knew their 'decision' to do it in this manner would be highly controversial and not welcome by many parents, else they wouldn't have sent it at the bitter end as they did so they wouldn't have to field concerns/inquiries/angry responses.

It's pretty shit management, tbf, OP. Obviously, they just aren't interested in what parents think.

DinoGreen Sun 19-Jul-20 12:21:50

My DS is starting in September. His school has done a series of videos - one of his teacher and the TA introducing themselves, one a tour of the classroom and the rest of the school, one an assembly, and one of the teacher reading them a story. Then we had a phone call with his teacher in lieu of a visit - DS said hello to her at the beginning of the call but it was mainly a call between the teacher and me.
His first day is a half day, then full time from day 2. Parents have to drop at the door and are not allowed to hang around or go inside either. It’s a shame but I think what they’ve done with the videos has been good so at least DS knows what his new teacher looks like etc. They’re clearly constrained by the guidelines.

Zodlebud Sun 19-Jul-20 13:01:28

I think you are overreacting a little and it’s not something to get upset about. We all have this rosy idea of first days at school and a lovely transition, children running out at the end of the day beaming from ear to ear and a wonderful bunch of new friends to share the joy with. COVID19 has put pay to that. It’s outside everyone’s control.

Parents, quite simply, cannot be on school premises. There will be staggered drop offs, playtimes etc but this is so your child can go to school at all. Believe it or not, it is actually much better for the child to drop and leave. Parents hanging around with their child clinging to them screaming can be a long and drawn out process. 99% of the time they are absolutely fine five minutes after the parents have left.

Of course you are worried about this but your anxieties are likely to rub off on your child if you’re not careful. Talk to them about how grown up they are going to be, how they will have their own peg and how their teacher is going to be really good at looking after them and helping them play with cool stuff. How they will find new lovely friends and learn how to read and write, and there will be special times where they can listen to stories and even sometimes watch TV. Your job is to get her thinking positively about school and looking forward to it. Preparing her for being left in the way you describe but this is because they are big now and it’s an exciting adventure.

You will also quickly learn that your child Is not that special. There’s 30 in a class. There won’t be a personalised service. You probably won’t even be able to speak to your teacher unless you make an appointment. Whilst they will always do their best, teachers won’t respond to emails straight away. They are experienced in dealing with summer borns and already know your concerns - they are no different to those of every other parent of a summer born. If you have very specific concerns relating to your child then please do email them and / or make an appointment but you do need to trust them to do their job.

You might not always have a teacher who you gel with. Rest assured that they will do the absolute best they can for your child.

Sirzy Sun 19-Jul-20 13:05:34

Schools can’t have parents hanging around sadly. It’s rubbish all around and I feel sorry for the children who are starting a new setting but she will be in the same position as all the others and the teachers will be prepared.


Witchend Sun 19-Jul-20 13:20:23

If you're cheerful and breezy about it, then chances are your dd will be. Tell her that "now she's a big girl" this is how they do it at school.

When I started school we had a half day in December (January starter) and then the first day you were waved off at the gate and did full days.

If you play up that side, of how fun to be a big girl, and this is what big girls do, you may find that she doesn't worry at all and is proud to show you how grown up she is.

My experience is that more children are fine on the first day, but have a wobble a few weeks in when they realise it is permanent, and settling in days obviously is no help for that.

Pl242 Sun 19-Jul-20 19:29:09

I can see where you’re coming from OP.

At the risk of making you feel worse, have had a completely different experience at the school my daughter will be starting at in September.

- 2 small stay and play sessions for children with parents with them the other week
- parents meeting with all the info etc - in groups of 15 max and social distanced seating in school hall
- the kids will start in groups of 6 a day at a time and on first day parents can come into classroom briefly to find peg and say bye
- then it will be drop off in playground as normal

I’ve been pleasantly surprised that this has been done as would have been easy not to or to not make the effort because of covid.

So I do feel for you. That said you are where you are and as others have said I think you need to take a positive attitude around your daughter. If you appear confident then hopefully that will help. Easy for me to say I know though. Good luck.

Tfoot75 Sun 19-Jul-20 19:39:35

Is there a nursery at the school? Just wondering as if many of the class are already used to the setting, they will probably go straight in leaving the staff more free to settle in the new children. Our school is much the same, but as my dd has been at the nursery for a year, I don't expect her to have a problem going straight in.

IHateCoronavirus Sun 19-Jul-20 19:48:23

Our DS is starting in September too. He also has never stepped foot inside the building although one parent was invited to an information meeting in the hall.

It is hard for all but I console myself that We are not alone.

101SpottyDogs Sun 19-Jul-20 20:23:56

Thank you all so much for your replies and sharing your experiences.

@back2good thank you, that was how it seemed to me.

@Zodlebud I agree that not hanging around is usually best for the reasons you described and it was how we handled preschool when she started there, it was more to just elaborate the fact of dropping her somewhere completely unknown and then leaving immediately that I'm not comfortable with. I think you're right also about not letting my anxiety rub off on her, I have tried not to do this but I think the reminder was helpful.
I also understand she's only one of thirty but when so many other schools and teachers (that I've spoken to and on this thread) have done so much to make the children and parents feel more comfortable I just feel that Dd and the other children in her class have been short changed. I think it really highlights how many teachers are willing to go the extra mile and what can be done to help the kids. I feel like our school are just telling us about the problems but offering no solutions.

@Witchend I think that's the best strategy. Definitely true about them settling well at the start and then a week or so in getting upset! Dd was like that at preschool!

@Pl242 that sounds absolutely amazing! I wouldn't have expected anything like that but would have been really impressed if they had gone to those lengths.

@Tfoot75 it's not attached to the school but is the closest one in proximity but not a feeder as such. There are a few other children going who she is friendly with so there will be familiar faces. None will have been in the school before though.

OP’s posts: |
Heckythump1 Mon 20-Jul-20 17:46:08

Sounds similar to my daughters school, she starts full time and we have to drop at the main school gate (to a staff member) she's only been in the school once for a visit last year and doesn't know a single member of staff or any of the children as she went to nursery elsewhere.
She is however very excited and going to try and make sure she doesn't pick up on my anxiety around the situation and hopefully she will be ok!

Ingridla Mon 20-Jul-20 18:04:44

My son starts Reception in September and I've not heard a dicky bird since the letter saying he has been accepted there.


BalanceGreen Mon 20-Jul-20 22:01:46

I think that's pretty bad, OP, but is it different to what they would normally have done?

We didn't hear anything until recently, but then had a conversation with teacher, information/video for DD sent home and will be having a phased induction into full time in September - first session with parents allowed in.

101SpottyDogs Mon 20-Jul-20 22:16:01

@Ingridla that's outrageous! What do they expect you to do?!

@BalanceGreen I said in my op 'the teacher usually visits the preschool twice to get to know them, read them a story etc and then there are two visits to the school with a parent present where they can see the classrooms etc' that sounds pretty good from your school, I would have been more than happy with that.

OP’s posts: |
101SpottyDogs Mon 20-Jul-20 22:16:14

@Ingridla that's outrageous! What do they expect you to do?!

@BalanceGreen I said in my op 'the teacher usually visits the preschool twice to get to know them, read them a story etc and then there are two visits to the school with a parent present where they can see the classrooms etc' that sounds pretty good from your school, I would have been more than happy with that.

OP’s posts: |
BalanceGreen Mon 20-Jul-20 23:01:46

Sorry, yes, you did make it clear they are not doing as they normally would before the summer, but perhaps if they normally start full-on they don't want to mess with that. (Our school normally has a long induction period, so they are able to move some of the summer transition sessions into September without much impact.)

Hopefully you will find they are fully prepped for extra issues and the teacher was just rushed due to last-minute decision making.

Sailingblue Thu 23-Jul-20 22:50:16

The variation between schools seems to be huge. I’ve been so impressed by ours. We’ve had:
* work set for the summer and am intro project that the children will use to talk about
* videos of the school and zoom calls with the children
* videos of the teacher reading a story; and
lovely letter to parents saying they know it isn’t as everyone would want but they’ll try and make it as fun for the children as possible and will recap pre school work to reintroduce them to learning.

We’ll have a similar drop and go approach but they normally do that anyway. Could you sign your daughter up to some activities or camps over the summer so she gets used to leaving you again?

GFqueen Thu 23-Jul-20 23:01:35

Speaking as an ex-Reception teacher, it would be very disruptive and unsettling to have lots of adults in the classroom on the first day of term.

Much better for the children to come into a calm and welcoming environment with just the teacher, and hopefully a classroom assistant.

Prepare your DD by being positive about the first day, reading books about going to school, etc. Also, make sure she can dress and undress independently ready for PE, use the loo on her own, manage shoes and coats on her own.

Hopefully, this will a great start to her school life.

SunbathingDragon Thu 23-Jul-20 23:08:07

Do you have a school Facebook page? I’d see if you can arrange with another parent for the children to meet up in a playground or similar the week or so before school starts. As long as you keep your distance from the other parent, I would be happy for the children to mix as they will be in the class bubble once terms starts. It means your child will have a familiar face as well.

Allmyarseandpeggymartin Thu 23-Jul-20 23:13:43

Same here op - all very transactional. I am worried about dropping DS off to a school he’s never been to with people he doesn’t know - full day too sad

FurryGiraffe Fri 24-Jul-20 12:30:07

DS2 starts in September and has had a half hour Zoom with his teacher as an intro. They're all in full days from day 1, with drop off in the playground. He'll be fine, because he knows the school well, and he's absolutely thrilled to be starting, but I'd have been worried if it were DS1 who'd never set foot in the place!

Having said that, I suspect that playground/gate drop off is probably overall a good thing. It's scary, yes, but it's probably less overwhelming and easier for children to leave parents than have parents leave them IYSWIM. When DS1 started reception, parents all went into the cloakroom and it was a chaotic, crowded, noisy scrum. I honestly think DS1 would have found going calmly in on his own much easier (despite it all being new).

howfarwevecome Fri 24-Jul-20 22:45:35

Our incoming Reception cohort hasn't been able to come in to school, but they have had online zoom sessions with the Reception teachers. It's all we were able to offer.

But they do know who their teachers will be, have received welcome packs, and will start full time. Everything the school can do to make them feel happy and welcome and secure will be done.

It's been a strange world in school since March...

Allmyarseandpeggymartin Sat 25-Jul-20 07:46:07

@howfarwevecome That sounds great. I did message my sons teacher to ask what will happen on the first day so I could describe it to him and that helped. Wish it wasn’t a whole full day.

I know everyone is doing their best in schools.

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