Last week Leo had an extra session of PE at school, I wasn’t really sure why so I quizzed him and it turns out that the new reception starters were visiting for settling in sessions. It took me straight back to this time last year and the realisation that my little boy would be a fully fledged student in no time. And here we are now, a mere four weeks until the end of his first year of primary school! I can’t quite believe it and I thought I’d share my experiences with you – a guide to surviving reception if you will.


You may have already sorted uniform and had a nice little fashion show in your lounge with them trying everything on. Adorable. But don’t fret if you haven’t got anything yet – the supermarkets generally have uniform all year round – I’d just make sure you have a good couple of weeks before they start so the imminent lead up to the big day isn’t too stressful. So what will you need? Here is a list of basic essentials that Leo had to get him through the first year:

3 x Jumpers/cardigans (cardigans are great for boys as well as girls – easier to take on and off etc)
6 x polo shirts
3 x shorts (I guess you can substitute this for dresses if you have girls? advice on how many dresses are best much appreciated!)
3 x trousers
6 x socks (buy all the same colour – for example Leo has all black – saves time on pairing etc)
1 x sports joggers
1 x sports shorts
1 x sports hoodie
1 x black pumps (which he has never worn)
1 x PE trainers (he wears an old pair)
1 x school shoes

You will of course need hats and gloves for winter months and hats for summer months – I’d suggest getting at least 15,000 pairs of gloves because they will never come home with them. Ever.

I tend to do a wash almost everyday and certainly every other so this number of items has worked well for us and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality and durability. I’ve not had to replace anything all year. Top tip for if your little one has to wear the white polo t-shirts – buy a tub of Vanish Gold Whites (or crystal whites). Adding it to your wash really does prevent them from going grey. And if you have the option to choose a darker colour top – choose that one. Our jumpers are from a specific school clothing specialist and the dye that ran from them was shocking so take caution on your first few washes just in case – I also bought the colour catchers to put in the washing machine which made a massive difference to the colours running.

The biggest part of sorting the uniform is the labelling. I can’t tell you the number of times Leo has come home with someone else’s shorts or jumper! Luckily his have always found their way back to us. I used Stuck On You for Leo’s labels. He has a selection of blue and green ones with little dinosaurs on them. He helped me to stick them all in so he knew where to look and what to look for when trying to find his things. They were so easy to use – no stitching, no ironing, nothing. Just simply stick them in. Not one of them has worn or lost its stickiness even after four million washes. And you need to stick them everywhere; shoes, pants (yep – you never know!), hats, gloves, book bags, water bottles, scooters. If it’s going through the school gates you want to make sure it’s labelled. The teachers will really appreciate it as well as it helps them massively. Lorna also recommends Stikins.

It’s a nice idea for your child to practice getting dressed over the summer, especially with the uniform. This way they know how to get it on and off properly as they will have to undress and dress themselves when they are in school. And as daft as it sounds, teaching them which show goes on which foot is really important too. I see so many children come out with them on the wrong feet – I taught Leo by discussing the shape of the shoe but, more basically, that the velcro bit is on the outside of his foot!

School Bags

Leo has two bags for school; his book bag and his PE kit bag. His kit stays at school all week and comes home on a Friday. I prefer doing it this way as it sort of doubles up as a spare clothes bag then as well – should he have an accident/get rained on etc.

Amy wrote a great post on being school bag savvy. The two things she mentions that I think have been the most vital is remembering the water bottle every day and also taking a snack on collection. It is the first thing Leo asks me for – he can’t possibly wait until we’ve made the three minute walk to get home. They all seem ravenous when they leave – must be all that learning they’re doing 🙂 You can see everything else you might want to consider here.

Morning Routine

It may or may not be a big change in your house; getting up, meeting a deadline to be somewhere and being presentable at the same time. It was for us. And we’ve been hit and miss on how well we’ve done but I’m proud to say we have never been late – mainly thanks to that three minute walk! Phew! But if there’s anything I’ve learnt over this last 10 months it’s that routine is key. Those mornings when it’s fallen off the radar are the ones that have been… painful. The last two weeks I have gone back to re-introducing our routine again and it goes a little something like this. I wake Leo most morning at 7:15 with a gentle nudge and glass of warm milk. His fave. He then takes five to ten minutes to rise and he takes himself to the bathroom for a wash and to brush his teeth. I lay his clothes out on the chair in his room, he gets dressed and then comes downstairs. Of course at the start of the school year he needed much more help with these things but the introduction of an electric toothbrush, a dinosaur wash cloth and some independence means he now flies through these tasks. Once he comes downstairs he goes straight to the kitchen where I leave two types of cereal out, a bowl, a spoon and a small jug of milk and he serves himself. Again, his confidence and ability with this task has improved dramatically over the last few months and he really enjoys doing it for himself now. There are odd morning’s where he will request eggs or a bagel so then that’s my cue to play kitchen staff. And then he’s free to do his own thing, play, watch a bit of TV, whatever he likes until we have to leave. Usually when he’s doing all of this I am wrangling a nearly two year old into a nappy and trying to get myself into some sort of order as well.

Getting Social

Try and be confident on the playground and strike up conversations where you can. It can be intimidating and difficult but remember that you are all in the same boat. If you’re friendly and approachable and chatty then it’s likely that your child will mirror your behaviour with new faces on the playground too. It’s a great idea to get a ‘reception mums/parents’ Whatsapp group going. There is so much to learn during that first year; ‘can you take a snack for them at snack time? When was homework due? What time is their assembly again?!’ and having a really quick way of getting an answer is the best. A way of doing this is making a slip to go in the childrens drawers. You can pass this to their teacher and ask him/her to distribute for you. It simply needs to say ‘If you would like to join the reception mums Whatsapp group, please text me and I will add you to it – 07XXXXXXXXX. Becky (Leo’s Mum)’. This happened to me and it has been a life saver for asking questions, sharing concerns and organising the odd trip to the pub to celebrate getting through another half term with a glass of wine or two! It’s also worth finding out if your school has a Facebook page where parents can post information – you might find out more about holiday clubs etc on somewhere like that.

School Activities For Parents

You will likely get invited to join PTA’s or help out at socials, school trips/events. And if you can, my advice would be to try your best to attend at least one. I helped out with sorting the prizes for the Christmas fete – it was pretty dull, tagging bottles and hand creams with raffle tickets but I got to see a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes and got to meet a few other parents and members of staff so it was worthwhile.

There are lots of things to get used to when your child starts school; fitting in homework, deciding whether or not they should do any after school clubs, deciding a year in advance if they’re going to be ready for their first residential trip (yep – we had to decide in May whether they will be up for a residential next March?!), managing ALL the birthday parties and the epic meltdowns that happen two minutes after you get home because they have been so busy holding it together all day in school. But hopefully you will get to see your child flourish and develop. Leo has blown me away with how much he’s grown, not only in height but in confidence. It’s been pretty magical. And above all, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher if you are confused about anything. They understand you might be new to this and haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

How are you feeling about your little one starting school in September? (you can read a post I wrote last year about my feelings towards Leo starting reception and how I felt after the first term) And if you’re seasoned at this, what other advice would you add? Good luck to all the new starters!