What to expect

We look at some of the things you can expect over the course of primary school, from new emotions to homework planners.

During primary school you and your child will experience lots of firsts. And while children all react differently to new situations, if you know what’s coming you’re in a better position to give them the support they need. 

Big emotions 

There’s lots to take in during those first few weeks of primary school. Your child will be experiencing new feelings and situations and this is likely to generate a whole lot of emotions in both of you.

  • Expect your child to be tired after school. Take a snack when you pick them up and be prepared for a few meltdowns. After behaving all day, you’re their safe space’, where they can display their true emotions. This is called After School Restraint Collapse’ and it’s a recognised phenomenon that can happen long after reception age!
  • Don’t be surprised if, after a few days or weeks, your child declares they’ve done school”. Manage their expectations by gently reminding them at the end of each day that they’ll be going again tomorrow and watch and listen to how they react. If you’re concerned about anything they tell you, speak to their teacher.
  • Wobbles are totally normal. Your child might run in without a backward glance on the first day but be more reluctant to leave you as the novelty of school wears off. Try tucking the label off a teddy or a little note from you in their pocket, or draw matching hearts on your hands for them to touch when they need to feel close to you.

School communications 

You can expect to get a lot of information from your child’s school throughout their time there. Schools tend to send information multiple times in case people miss it the first time around, or need reminding. 

The school will let you know all the ways you can communicate with them and how they send out information to parents, but expect to see:

  • Forms, letters and reports sent home
  • Emails from teachers, headteachers and governors
  • Updates on the website (there may be a page for each year group or class)
  • Apps and social media groups for the school and/​or your child’s class

In return, the best communication is two way, and when you need to be in touch with the school it helps if you:

  • Write your child’s name, class, and what’s inside etc on envelopes that are being sent in with your child.
  • When you want to speak to your child’s teacher, make an appointment rather than trying to catch them at the door before or after school. You’ll have a much more productive chat.
  • Go along to any meetings the teacher holds to update parents on what children will be learning that term. If you can’t make it, ask for notes.
  • Attend parents’ evenings (online or in-person) and get the questions ready that you need answers to get the best out of your allotted time. It’s often not very long.

School life 

You’ll find you soon get into the rhythm of school life: term times and holidays, fundraising events and PE days. Check ahead at the start of each week so you know what’s on the dinner menu, if there are any school trips and whether your child needs to take in anything out of the ordinary.

  • Wraparound (before and after school) care often has a waiting list for places, so book well in advance. Some schools run separate breakfast clubs where children can get a hot meal to start the day, sometimes for free. 
  • School dinners are free for all children until the end of KS1. Make sure you’ve got a copy of the menu to hand so your child can decide whether they want a packed lunch or a school dinner each day. As they move through the school they may get more responsibility, perhaps serving the younger children or taking orders to the kitchen in the morning. 
  • You might find that after school clubs often aren’t run for the first few months so that reception children don’t get too tired. What’s offered then will vary each term but could include anything from Lego club to dancing. 
  • School trips are usually linked to a specific topic, although trips to the theatre or sporting events might also be organised. As your child progresses through school they’ll get to go slightly further afield and in KS2 they’ll probably have at least one residential trip. 
  • Homework will vary between schools. Very few expect homework to be completed at the reception stage but as your child moves through their school they will be set regular tasks in preparation for starting secondary school. You’ll be encouraged to read with your child regularly.