British parents have revealed the most emotional milestone in bringing up a child – the first day at school.

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First


While parenthood is crammed full of millions of joyous moments, dropping a little son or daughter off at school was hailed as the most emotional.

The survey carried out by Sainsbury’s found that a third of parents felt a mixture of excitement tinged with anxiousness, while a quarter of the dads polled said they themselves were moved to tears.

Seven in ten mums who took part in the study said they were forced to reach for a tissue when their satchel-clad four year old wandered into a classroom for the first time.

A proud eight in ten parents captured the moment with a ‘first day of school’ photo of their son or daughter proudly dressed in their new school uniform before swiftly framing it, issuing copies to other family members or uploading it to Facebook straightaway.

Among the other emotional milestones were a child’s first tentative steps, the first word spoken and celebrating their very first birthday.


The preparation for school starts long before the first day as parents put in extra time to teach their child core skills to have them up to speed for their first day - tying shoe laces, telling the time and basic writing skills were the trickiest to teach.

The countdown to that all important day starts a whole month before for over 1.5 million parents already shopping for school uniforms, bags, lunch boxes and stationery, while 10 per cent are focused more than two months before that very first day.

The 20 Most Emotional Milestones For Parents

1.    First day at school

2.    First steps

3.    First word

4.    First birthday

5.    First day at nursery

6.    First Christmas

7.    First crawl

8.    First nativity/school play

9.    First time riding a bike

10.  First swim

11.  First time writing their name

12.  First holiday

13.  First time reading words

14.  First tooth

15.  First solid foods

16.  First sports day

John Carolan, Head of Buying for Tu childrenswear at Sainsbury’s said: ‘’Many parents and mothers in particular clearly view their child’s first day at school as the main sign that their baby has grown to a child.

‘’Understandably it can be a huge wrench to say goodbye to them at the school gate as the results show that it’s a day mum never forgets.

‘’It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and time put into equipping that child from ensuring they have the skills to set them up for life, and in the weeks or even months of preparation that goes into getting them the uniform and equipment they need to flourish at school.


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