29/05/2009 14:20 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Coping With The School Gate Mafia

There's so much focus on preparing your child for starting school, that it's easy to forget that there are parts of the process that are hard for parents too.

Many mums get very wound up about the so-called "school gate mafia" of apparently super-confident mums who already seem to know everybody. For some reason dads don't seem so bothered -- I wonder why?

In many schools, the classes do not get mixed up from year to year, so it makes sense to get to know the other parents in your child's class. You'll be seeing a lot of each other in the years to come. And particularly in reception, many parents are anxious about how their child is settling in and keen to talk to others about it. So be brave and face the mafia -- they're probably just as anxious as you.

Here's some advice on how to deal with the scary playground mums.

One thing I did when my son was in reception to get to know the other parents was volunteer to be Class Rep. Pretty much my only (self-appointed) duty, was to organise a class night out. I picked a date and a pub and got the teacher to put a note in bookbags inviting people along. The first time we did this, about 18 out of 30 mums came, and 18 months on, these termly nights out are still happening.

So don't hang around and wait for someone else to organise something, because I bet if you pluck up the courage to do something like this, you'll find that other people respond positively.

If you try to chat to someone new at the school gates but get rebuffed, don't take it personally. They may be shy, depressed or simply not yet ready to respond to The Wonder of You. It's no biggie -- if anything it's their loss.

There's no law that states that just because your children are friends, the parents have to be too. But if you can keep up a basic conversation with the other parents, you will be helping your child. You'll get the lowdown on what's happening at school.

You'll realise that you're not alone if your child is struggling with reading and writing. You'll be creating a support network to help each other out with school pickups. And you may even make some friends too.