The Starting School Survival Guide by Sarah Ebner
I am a reluctant self-help book reader and so I was dubious about a book with “survival guide” in its title. And surely a guide that covers a subject that is a little nerve-wracking for most, but is such a rite of passage for any parent, and always has been, would be redundant? I was wrong.
The Starting School Survival Guide starts from how to choose a school and ends with moving onto the next stage ie Year 1. It covers lighter-weight matters such as parental playground cliques and much more serious ones like bullying. Whilst much of it is relevant to independent education, it does assume that its reader has chosen a state school for their child.
Its author, Sarah Ebner, is a respected Times journalist who has written a popular education blog. Given her background, it probably isn’t surprising that the bite-sized format of the book – real-life quotes and straight-talking and warm language – means that the guide is easy to dip into, easy to digest and easy to navigate.
I found that the book actually offered a real spectrum of information and opinion. There was a lot in the meatier chapters that really helped my understanding of the system, for example Actual Learning was great at putting the National Curriculum facts into a parental perspective. This is essential as most of us were at this stage of school over 30 years ago, a lot of how you learn has changed.
Much of the content was simply reassuring – yes, if you are worried about something go and speak with your child’s teacher – sounds obvious but seeing it in black and white makes it more reasoned somehow. And even the lighter-weight chapters such as Navigating the school cliques for parents are written entertainingly enough to be recognisable and successfully make their point.
But what I felt was The Starting School Survival Guide's greatest strength was that it acted as a wake-up call to me. It cleverly (and maybe unwittingly) painted the full picture of the reality of being a parent of a child starting in Reception in 2011. So whilst I did not necessarily need all its words of comfort, I put it down realising that my son’s experience of primary school is going to be very different from my own and perhaps that is the greatest thing a parent can learn.
PWT rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
The Starting School Survival Guide: Everything you need to know when your child starts primary school is available from Amazon.