This first few weeks of school life has certainly been a fast learning curve and I mean for mummy and daddy. Here’s the 11 things the first half term at school has taught me.
1. My son is more grown up than I thought
At just 4 years and 3 weeks old precisely on his first day at school and with a tendency to throw the mother of all tantrums over the slightest thing I was more than a little concerned about how he would handle the demands of school. I envisaged a crying, screaming, red eyed, anger filled little boy who wouldn’t eat dinner but instead would quite likely fall asleep in it. I had pretty much resided myself to the fact that the next few months were going to be a total right off in terms of spending any enjoyable time with him Monday to Friday and I was braced for torrents of “arrrghh your annoying me” and “I need to be alone”.
What has actually happened has flawed me, he is on the whole calmer and less shouty than he has been in months. Don’t get me wrong he still has a meltdown every now and but far from being not ready for school I think he’s probably been crying out for it for a long time, who knew, certainly not us, oops!
2. Kids learn unbelievably quickly
At just two weeks into school life he recognised every letter of the alphabet and now at the end of the first half term he can read several words and is sounding out and blending. I am gobsmacked by how quickly kids seem to pick things up. Obviously as every proud mother I think deep down he must be some sort of genius and I now have visions of him being a scientist or an astronaut. In reality his little brain is like a sponge thirsty for knowledge and he has fantastic teachers and teaching assistants who understand how to get him to learn. I remain however amazed and in awe of him.
3. I was not prepared for the amount of homework
Thinking back to my time in reception at a smallish school in Leicester in 1991 I only have memories of playing in a massive play house which was super cool because it had two floors, painting and wearing aprons that covered my arms, looking at our class pet hamster and going into school in my pj’s for a non-uniform thing. I have no memory of doing reading and maths homework, learning words and doing projects. Whether that’s because we just didn’t back then or because I simply can’t remember I’m not sure but I had envisaged reception would be for our son as I remember it to be for me. I was therefore not in the slightest bit prepared for the folder full of homework tips that came home, the folder with words to learn, the three books a week and the maths puzzles, not to mention the Children’s University passport.
I am 100% supportive of the tasks he is being set to do and committed to doing each and every one to the best of all of our abilities but I do feel slightly overwhelmed by it all. Perhaps I was naïve but this has been a rude awakening to what is to come over the next 12 years of school life. God help me when the twins start and we have three lots of home work to do.
4. I’ve lost control of what he is exposed to
I wouldn’t say I’ve been a control freak but I have always been cautious about what our son is exposed to, he has never seen the news and when it comes on the car radio we turn it over. He hasn’t watched the super hero films I know he would love to and we are very careful about what we discuss within his ear shot. I have wanted to keep his mind innocent and un burdened with life’s truths for as long as humanly possible and always imagined I would be able to be the first to talk to him about new experiences and big topics in life.
I have quickly come to realise that he is now free to mix five days a week with up to 90 other reception children who perhaps have had different experiences to him and maybe know things he doesn’t and I am sad to accept that he will hear things that I don’t want him to and he will therefore say things that I am not comfortable with. Figuring out how to deal with that as and when it arises is a new challenge in parenting I was once again not prepared for.
5. Finding out what he’s done is like getting blood from a stone
I have tried asking him irregular questions like “who made you laugh today? Who did you sit next to at lunch?” etc. and also the tactic of calling his bluff like “I heard you did P.E today” knowing full well he didn’t in the hope he would correct me and give me something, but nothing works. That is nothing works for me and my husband, for his grandparents he is much more forthcoming, typical.
6. Adjusting to the difference in contact between nursery and school is hard
I have always been able to pick up the phone and call nursery to ask for an update on how my boys days are going and although I am sure the school would do their best to find out it isn’t really the same or appropriate for me to call every lunch time for an update. This is a massive change and one that’s taking some adjusting too. I’m not sure I like it but I know it’s just the way it has to be because 1. There are too many kids to have a load of parents calling every lunch for an update and 2. He’s a big boy now and I need to treat him that way, as hard as that is.
It Isn’t just adjusting to not calling though I am used to having a daily diary about what he has eaten, what he has done etc. and this, again down to logistics I guess, Isn’t possible at school.
7. I’d be lost without breakfast club
What a bloody god send that place is! I honestly don’t know what I would do without it and the women who run it are absolutely fantastic. Long live breakfast club.
8. I’m an unbelievably proud mum
Like all mothers I could literally pop when my children do something clever or special or well when they just breath to be honest. This is amplified when he is rewarded at school, that kind of official recognition of what a little star he is (not at all biased, cough cough) is amazing. He was awarded star of the week in his second week at school and I could have shouted it from the roof tops. The best of all is seeing the pride on his face when he tells us, magical.
9. You’re constantly paying out money
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like they are constantly putting cash in envelopes for school, if it isn’t for clubs or parent lunches it’s for school photos or hand drawn Christmas cards. Again god help us when all three are at school.
10. School uniform lasts 5 minutes
I brought 3 pairs of trousers and 6 polo tops thinking that would easily last until he out grew them. I can now hear established school mum’s spitting their coffee out across the nation, what an idiot I was! He managed to ruin 2 polo shirts in the first week alone, so glad I didn’t by the £7 a pop school logo polos.
11. He’s such a boy
We honestly must hear the word poo 50 times a day and that’s not even an exaggeration. He has become the most boisterous, roaring, play fighting, football playing, knee sliding, tree climbing, obstacle jumping, fast running, non washing, “poo head” I have ever met. To think I used to worry he only had friends who were girls and I feared he wouldn’t settle in at school, he’s now the epitome of ‘slugs and snails and puppy dog’s tails’ and it’s ace.