It is truly unbelievable that a whole year has passed since we waved goodbye to Tigs’ nursery and all the wonderful staff and friends she had made there. This time last year we were excitedly attending settling in sessions at her new school and making awkward smiles to the new faces nervously standing outside the classroom (and that was just the Mums). We were panicking about the most obscure of things; whether to buy uniform in age 3-4 or 4-5, how we’d navigate the school run logistics, whether we had made the right choices, and of course, how would she get on.
There are probably some of you reading this who are in this stage right now, and there is no point in me reassuring you about everything being just fine, because you just have to go through the process for yourself and come out the other side.
As a means of reflecting on how far she has come, and how far we have come, here is what we have learnt in the first year of Primary school.
It started with the leaving of nursery, then the first day emotions…I have to say the whole process of starting school sent me in to an emotional mess. And her? She coped brilliantly at first, and then a few weeks in had a major regression of not wanting to go to school, and to stay at home with Mummy. That was frankly heartbreaking, watching her sob herself to sleep at night, but we got through it and came out the other side.
Even now at the end of reception year we occasionally have ‘I don’t want to go to school’ tears, but those days are few and far between, and more a game of testing her luck than genuine distress.
I didn’t expect to go through a whole new emotional rollercoaster on finishing reception and moving up to year one, but the realisation of them no longer being the babies, seeing the class together who have bonded and become part of our lives this year has been a bit of a tear jerker too. Saying goodbye to the wonderful teachers and tentatively assessing the next, it’s all a huge tug on the heartstrings.
BURSTING WITH PRIDE
Seeing your child transition into a school girl doesn’t happen overnight; at first they look a little like infiltrators in their oversized uniforms. But as the year goes on something gives. They grow in confidence, in stature and their abilities and it’s been a joy to behold.
Seeing the kids perform in assemblies, sports day, church services is like payday for all the graft you’ve put in as a parent. These are the glory days, the days you want to cuddle them so tight and tell them how unbelievably proud you are of what they have become.
Believe me, there is nothing more adorable than finding those first little letters from your child, or stories in their notebooks as they learn to read and write and you get an entire new angle on what’s going on inside their little heads.
Tigs, like many kids, didn’t know any children at her new school, having transitioned from another school nursery on the other side of town. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it mattered. I think this was a big part of her initial struggle with settling into school, as she missed her nursery friends terribly, and still does.
She did however make so many new friends very quickly, and here a year later those other 29 kids have become part of her world, and so many of them we hold very dear.
In the words of a lovely friend, there are two types of Mums. Those that want to chat, to talk in the line, and those who would frankly rather sit in the car until the last minute to avoid that altogether.
For me, having a network of parents at the school was something I felt I needed to help us settle, to feel part of a community, and to know what on earth was going on! Being one of life’s chatterboxes (and always early) meant in no time a small group had become firm friends. We cemented the circle with a whatsapp group in no time which has quite frankly been an absolute lifesaver when there have been surprise own clothes days and emails requiring a reply lost in your inbox. For the Mums not dropping off every day it’s meant notes on doors have been passed on and we’ve been able to help each other out with pick ups, parties and late arrivals. I can’t encourage you to find a small network enough – it’s been a total game changer. We even managed a cheeky Mums night out before the end of term.
STILL FEELING CLUELESS
Even with the stealth team of Mums on the case, a year into school life I don’t really feel much wiser on the goings on of the school. I know a few teachers names but we have only gone beyond the class door a handful of times. The kids aren’t the best at relaying what they have done each day and the end of year workbook review was a total surprise in terms of some of the stuff they were learning. It’s still early days though and I’ve come to realise that perhaps you don’t have to know every little detail…
READING EVERY DAY
Reading books sent home are expected to be read every day. No problem, we’ll ace that. Won’t we? Will we hell! It’s amazing how quickly reading the prescribed book becomes a chore to all involved – especially when you love reading together every night normally. We try our best but sometimes it’s a drag, and Monday mornings there is often a panic read before school…
THE SCHOOL RUN
It’s a no brainer that the school run will be batshit crazy. But I have to say I’ve surprised myself as just how much so! Even when our two year old alarm clock has had us up at 5am, it still seems mission impossible to get out of the door with all season appropriate accessories without it turning into total carnage. Book bags have been forgotten, water bottles left on the dining table, and yesterday’s hair styled out for a second day.
Just today, teeth were brushed in the car, suncream was forgotten, and the Mouse’s hair was detangled in the queue for nursery. And I am a self confessed punctual freak…how did this happen?!
JUST THE BEGINNING
One of the major differences in starting year R and starting year 1 is that as a new family to the school you become so engrossed in the logistics of starting school, you don’t really stop to think about the journey beyond.
As I walked across the playground and heard the year six choir practicing their leavers performance, I got goosebumps, not just for them but for my own children. I know in a blink it’ll be them moving on, and give how attached we’ve become to the children, staff and parents at the school in just one year, it’s going to be an absolute heartbreaker.