10 Sep '13

News Juggling home and school life on the first day of term

Year 4 teacher, Kirsty Millar-Kent, shares her insights into balancing being a mum and kicking off term with your new class


My day starts with either the alarm going off or one of my two cats purring as loud as possible. Despite the early time, it's one of my favorite parts of the day as it's one of the few times I can be a mummy. I sort out lunchboxes, check uniforms, make sure I have something out of the freezer for dinner or put something in the slow cooker – oh, and don't forget feed the cats.


I wake the girls up and we snuggle up in bed watching the news, Everything's Rosie, Team Unizoomi, Chugginton or Alphablocks – real family time as we adjust to the new day, talk about our plans and start the miracle process of being downstairs, dressed by 7am.

Normally, we leave the house at 7:10am and go to my mum's house – she looks after the girls and takes them to school. Today is an unusual day, however, as it's my eldest daughter's first day in reception, so mummy duties are extended.

The first day of the school year has always been an emotive day for me. Lots of questions run through my head: will we all gel? What will be the highlight of their first week? Term? Year? Will I have any teary children who need a bit of bolstering? When will the behaviour honeymoon end?

Despite the fact that it's really important for me to take my daughter to her first day, I can't quite shake the guilt at not being there for my new class as they walk into the classroom.

I normally get into school for about 7:50am and do the usual tasks – printing, setting up for the first lesson and so on. As an ICT co-ordinator, I also say my daily prayer: "Please Lord, let the server work properly today. Let every computer, log on and wireless access point work perfectly."


I arrive at school ready for the first day with the children. On the drive to school I think about the jobs I need to do including chasing up the acceptable-use policies with new members of staff.

As the school is in assembly, I get a few minutes to prepare the 'Welcome to your new class treasure hunt'. We'll also start our personal, social, health and citizenship unit on rights and responsibilities. We'll talk about the usual duties – keeping the class tidy, working hard, respecting each other – but, I'll also introduce them to the most important responsibility – keeping an eye on my green pen and to-do list. I can't function without either of them within 10 feet of me.


Time to reflect on a packed morning. The children all enjoyed using a clip from the Literacy Shed to stimulate free writing and our new seating arrangement, based on Kagan structures, seems to be working (though it's early days). It's also a quick chance to make a phonecall to see how the first morning went – all good and now enjoying lunch in the garden. Phew.

I pop into the staff room to make a bucket of tea and after that, I'm back to class to sort some last-minute display questions, put our new maths packs in the tray and print information to help with planning.


The children needed to get their kits ready for their PE session with our outside providers. One of my girls, whose sister had started secondary school that day, suddenly burst into tears. I gave her a few minutes and repeated the instructions in case she was unsure of what to do or where to go. She was still crying so I had a quiet chat with her. It turned out she was worried about not being able to cope without her sister in the same school as her. So, I listed all of the great things she had done that day – she soon cracked a smile and went off to enjoy PE.


Despite being the first day, it's my planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time. A chance to start marking some of the children's English books from this morning. I make notes on the next steps and the handwriting joins we need to focus on.


Home time. I stand outside of the classroom and reassure all the parents that their child had a fantastic day, settled in well and worked hard. For those few who need a positive start, I make sure I have a tale to tell the parents to put their mind at ease. Time for another bucket of tea – how I love those Sports Direct mugs – and then catch up with my partner teacher to see how her day was.

It's also time to put up tomorrow's readers, sort the board and then get the girls. I feel really guilty about leaving at 4pm but I know that I'll catch up on the things I need to do later in the evening. The journey to collect the girls is my time to reflect on the day, what went well, what I need to work on, particular children who I need to check on.

I collect the girls and use the drive home to find out about their day. As usual I get the, "I did nothing" response, but with careful questioning I discover that they played princesses and Abi's enjoyed being with her friends. By the time we get home it's almost 5pm, so it's time to cook, eat and play. At 6:30pm we have milk and Where's Wally time followed by teeth, story and bed.


I get back into teacher mode. I quickly update the school website and Twitter account then plan maths and English for next week. Youtube, Steps to Success, Pie Corbett, Ros Wilson all provide great ideas.


Enough is enough. What I haven't planned can wait until tomorrow. A quick check on Twitter and then it's time to relax – a quick crochet session and it's time for lights out and switch off until tomorrow morning.

Kirsty Millar-Kent lives near the Norfolk-Lincoln border. Kirsty is a year 4 teacher in a two-form entry school and an ICT and gifted and talented co-ordinator. Kirsty tweets as @10kmk42 and writes a blog.

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. Looking for your next role? Take a look at Guardian jobs for schools for thousands of the latest teaching, leadership and support jobs.

theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Read the full story in Guardian Education
Log in Join