Starting School: 10 Ways To Tell When Your Child Is Ready For School

Something has been said to me a lot this summer by other mums, as they watch my four-year-old daughter jabber away 19 to the dozen, barely pausing for breath between one question and the next.

They look at the dazed expression and fixed grin on my face and say: "She's definitely ready for school, isn't she?" What they MEAN is, "You're definitely ready for her to go to school, aren't you?" And they're right...

Don't get me wrong - I will miss her, when she's away from me from 9am to 3pm for five days a week. It'll be strange to be able to hear myself think for the first time in years. I'll miss that beautiful, enquiring, relentless voice which invades my head so much that it almost feels like my own. But I think we're both definitely ready for this.

Here's how you can tell:

1. When you find yourself answering more and more questions with: "Er, I don't know. I think it's... well it might be... the thing is... oh, shall we Google it?"

2. When your daughter wakes up in the morning and immediately asks to try her school uniform on again, despite the fact that school doesn't start for another three days, and she constantly asks to go to Tesco, so that she can sneak another look at her new school playground and try to decide what to play with first.

3. When the very mention of the phrase "home schooling" makes you collapse in a hysterical heap at the thought of it. Oh, the horror. Not for me, thank you...

4. When your child accosts anybody and everybody, including shop assistants and strangers at the swimming pool, to inform them that she's starting school next week and she is four and a half and Jessica Nelson is going to be in her class and her sister is one and her mummy is 34 and how old are you and why are your arms so hairy?

5. When you start crossly dismissing articles about the joys of Swedish schooling and how they don't start formal education until seven. Well actually, it's usually six.

Parental leave in Sweden is among the most generous in the world, which probably helps. Children are guaranteed a place at a public pre-school and no parent is charged more than three per cent of their salary, with fees capped at £132 a month for the highest earners. Sweden spends more per year subsidising pre-school services than it does on its annual defence budget. Sort that out for me here in the UK, and I'll start listening when you tell me my child shouldn't start school until she's seven.

6. When you shift from thinking that being a reception class teacher must be a really lovely, rewarding job, to feeling slightly sorry for them...

7. When your ears are so battered by the end of the day from the constant, high volume demands and endless shrieking that perforating your own eardrums becomes a realistic and tempting option.

8. When your child has already planned out in great detail exactly what she is going to do on her first, second, third and fourth day at school, who her best friend is going to be and which of the children in her new class will be coming to her birthday party in five months' time.

9. When other parents (friends and strangers) give you pitying looks and smiles as you endure another meltdown or temper tantrum and say: "It'll get easier when she starts school" and "School will do her the world of good".

10. When you take a step back, and look at your child, with her long hair and dazzling smile, reading stories to her little sister and navigating her way with ease around the laptop, and realise that she is somehow suddenly no longer a baby, or a toddler, but the last four and a half years have flown by like a hazy, golden dream and she is now a schoolchild.

So, I think we're ready. I hope we're ready! The school uniform has been tried and tested. The PE kit is packed and hopefully by the time you read this everything she owns will have been labelled within an inch of its life.

Of course, I've neglected to plan my own outfit for the school gate mummy mafia, but you can't have everything. There's only one way to find out just how ready we are.

Wish us luck!