Guest Blog: Matt Whyman’s advice on surviving your first day at school

Matt Whyman, author and
agony uncle

It’s that time of year everybody dreads, apart from working parents. Just as the sun comes out, having endured weeks of wet weather, a new school year is set to start. As the big day approaches, here’s my advice on how to make it fun.

Before we go any further, I should confess that my first ever day at school, age 5, didn’t quite go to plan. My mum saw me off in the playground, along with all the other tearful parents there to mark this important chapter in their children’s lives. I remember filing into the classroom in a crocodile, finding our pegs and sitting down for a story. Five minutes later, as the teacher turned to slot the book back on the shelf, I rose to my feet, quietly made my way to the door and slipped away without anyone noticing.

When I showed up at home, which was half a mile away along a busy road, I was surprised to find my mum greet me with a look of surprise and horror.

“But I’ve finished school,” I told her. “What’s next?”

I’m sure you can imagine how I felt on learning that my education was supposed to stretch beyond lunchtime and then take in the next ten years or so. It probably explained why I always started a new term with a sinking feeling. In fact, there were times when I began the countdown on the first day of the holidays. My new term fears were kind of chronic, but it doesn’t have to be this way for you.

Matt created this picture for his daughter to celebrate her conquering her first day of school.

So, what exactly is there to worry about when it comes to going back to school? We all have different anxieties, of course, but generally it boils down to the need to fit in. Nobody wants to stand out in a new environment, after all. But is there anything to be done that reduces the risk?

The solution is to forget about being best mates with everyone by morning break. Instead, focus on getting to know one or two people on your wavelength – whether they’re old friends or someone you’ve just met. You’ll soon relax by spending time in their company, and your personality will start to shine. That’s when everyone else starts paying attention for all the right reasons. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll be the most popular person, but it’s a sure fire way to earn respect. Not only will it get you through day one, you’ll find it helps you make the most of the days and weeks that follow. Before you know it, the holidays will be here again, only this time you’ll be sorry to see the term end.


3 responses to “Guest Blog: Matt Whyman’s advice on surviving your first day at school

  1. Great post, Matt! But nope, I can’t do it. I CAN’T GO BACK TO SCHOOL. *rips hair out*

  2. Wonderful blog post. I especially liked the part about focusing on one or two people who fit on your wavelength instead of trying to get the attention of every person.

  3. I remember my first day at a new school when I changed primary schools – I stuck out immediately just by saying ‘Goodo!’ (I’d read one too many Enid Blyton books). Still, in hindsight I accidentally ended up doing exactly what you did when I started secondary school and just made friends with a few like-minded girls. I’m still chatting to them 15 years later! Brill advice 🙂

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