The End of an Era as Youngest Starts School

This week, as most children go back to school, I’m aware that this is my last week with Eva at home before she starts Reception on Monday.

I can’t quite believe we are at the point where my baby, my youngest will be off to school.

Big Deal

Starting school is a big step for all children and let’s face it the parents too! For most children it’s a longer day, there’s uniform to get used to, a new place with a new teacher and new friends to make. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time. We had some odd behaviour from Eva over the summer which was down to her being anxious about school and feeling a bit lost. More recently, she’s been excited about things like her new school shoes and being at the same place with her big sister – Alice. But she still has her moments; just this week she has had quiet periods where she admits to me in a little voice that she’s nervous. After a week of refusing to go to bed, I finally lost the plot with her last night only for her to break down into huge sobs and tell me how she was scared about starting school and how much she’s going to miss me. It broke my heart and no matter what I said, she just continued to howl!

  Finally asleep on the sofa after sobbing about school for over an hour

For me, it’s going to take some getting used to as well. I will need to adapt to not having any little people around with me during the week anymore. Wednesday was always the day that Eva and I spent off together and whether it was a trip to the park, an outing to the supermarket or just getting on with chores at home, I will truly miss having my little side-kick around.

Enough?

When the girls were babies, I can remember my Nan saying that we should enjoy our children as much as we could before we lost them to school. I know what she meant. From Monday the girls will be at school for most of the day and for most of the week, leaving me to pick up the grumpy, moody, scrappy bits in the morning and mid-afternoon.

When I had both girls at home there were many moments of hard work. There was a point where both were in nappies and like most other mums I had to deal with tantrums, potty training and fighting. It was exhausting but equally, it has gone in a flash. I can’t believe that come Monday, they will be gone.

As I sit here and marvel at how it can be possible to have exchanged nappies for school uniform in such a short amount of time, I can’t help but wonder whether I could have made more of those early days. Could I have done more? Could I have played with them more? Could we have done more trips out? Could I have spent less time on my phone and given them more of my undivided attention? I guess I’ll never know, but it’s no good looking back, we can only move forwards.

Looking at The Positives

I know that next week will be an emotional time for Eva and for me. It will feel almost like grieving knowing that I won’t have them around during the day, but I’m determined not to be too depressed or too nostalgic. Here’s some of the positives that I need to remember:

  1. Eva is more than ready for school, she’s quick, on the ball and wants to learn.
  2. Once she’s in the routine of going every day, I know that she will love school.
  3. This is my time. As a friend recently said to me, the world is my oyster. I can focus more on my freelance business, go shopping, do some more writing, try to exercise more or whatever I want.
  4. Weekends will be more precious.

It will definitely feel like the end of an era next week when Eva starts school. I know that it will be an emotional time, but it’s the start of a new chapter with hopefully lots to look forward to for both of us as well.

Wish me luck next week!

 

Trying on school uniform ready for next week

The Ongoing School Debacle

For the past 15 months we’ve been mulling over a problem in our family. A dilemma about what we should do. It’s something that has been gnawing away at us for so long that it’s had a fairly toxic affect on all of us.

Primary School Results

The Initial Saga

15 months ago we were completely shocked and distressed not to get any of our 4 choices of primary school for our eldest daughter. The local school, less than 10 minutes away, which we’d naively assumed we would get into was hugely oversubscribed, to the extent it has never been seen before.  Despite going through an appeal and being on the waiting list, nothing changed. Alice started at our allocated primary school in September. It took her a long time to settle in, but she now seems happy and to be enjoying school for which we are truly grateful.

You might say, well good for you that’s that then. But then came:

The Latest Saga

A few weeks ago, I found out that our local secondary school which is perhaps a 15 minute walk away from our house, has just THIS YEAR decided to change their policy to only admit children from local “feeder”primary schools. Our local primary school counts as a “feeder” school, but our allocated school where Alice now attends is not.

To add insult to injury the secondary school near to where Alice now goes to school confirmed that their policy is to only take children who live in the nearby catchment area (which we are not).

WHAT THE ?!!!  

I mean really?! How is this fair that schools all have a different set of rules?

This leaves us once again falling down the gap not fitting into any one particular set of rules or meeting any particular criteria. It means in 5 years’ time as it stands, we will be shunted to a random secondary school miles away.

Whilst it might sound a bit neurotic to be thinking 5 years ahead, I can’t help feeling upset and cross that after all the trouble we experienced last year, we are potentially going to face all again in 5 years’ time.

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Alice on her first day of school Sept 15

The Options

1) We looked at moving house. Drastic? Yes. But needing to take the control of the situation rather than let fate decide where our kids should be educated, we started exploring other areas. I’m not convinced this is the right thing to do. Why should I have to leave my friends and family and start again? And there’s no guarantees that we can move somewhere and get both our children into a school.

2) Move to another feeder school. I’ve given up phoning the local school down the road to find out where we are on the waiting list. It was literally driving me mental to find out that I had on several occasions moved DOWN the list. By chance, I discovered that one of the lovely little village schools on our original list was expanding their school and could take on an extra 10 places per year group. We applied and found out we’d got a place! Woo-Hoo! We were all set to move Alice until I read the admissions policy and found out that they (unlike most primary schools) do not give priority to siblings.

What The ?!!!! 

I mean really?! How is this fair that schools all have a different set of rules?

And so because we are out of catchment for this village school and the council have confirmed exactly how many children live in catchment for when our youngest daughter starts school next year, it looks like we are going to have to turn the place down.

We have stressed ourselves out over this for 15 months now. I have been upset and depressed about the situation as well as feeling  bitter and resentful about the neighbours and community all being able to go to the local school except for us. It particularly hurt when our next door neighbour managed to get a place for their little boy this year at the local school because the sibling and birth rate this year is much lower than last year. We’ve really felt like upsticks and leaving. But every alternative seemingly has more problems to bear.

I’ve written to the local MP, the local authority and the department of education as well as the schools themselves to complain about the situation and the lack of consistency in the admissions criteria. But no one wants to know. Everyone has passed the buck and I’m utterly exhausted and fed up with thinking about and fighting it.

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Alice with Eva in their matching uniform

Trying to Retain some Positivity

About a week ago, I felt a shift in my mood. I don’t know whether it was because we have been fighting and stressing about it all for so long and the fight has now gone out of me. I’ve grown tired of being negative and bitter about our situation. It’s not had a good affect on any of us and I’m particularly aware that our stress could well have been taking its toll on our children.

Or I don’t know whether my mood has changed because I’m aware of just how happy Alice seems at her current school and even better, excited to be going into Year 1 in September, her confidence seems to have come on in abundance since last year.

Whilst I’m still UPSET about the initial and latest saga. Whilst I still WISH we could walk to our local school. Whilst I’m still willing to EXPLORE other possibilities that come up, and whilst I’m still SCARED about what will happen to us in 5 years’ time – being shunted to a random secondary school, I’ve decided to focus on what is important:

That Alice is in a good school

That she is thriving both in terms of her learning and education as well as her confidence and friendships.

I’m sorry for the huge rant! I realise that this post is quite selfish in that it’s cathartic; I’ve totally offloaded but I do feel strangely better for it.

If anyone has any thought or advice, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear

Mummascribbles

Cuddle Fairy

6 Things You Don’t Expect When Your Child Starts Primary School

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Two weeks ago my eldest daughter started primary school. It’s been a fairly fraught summer, we didn’t get into any of our 4 choice of primary schools and we lost our appeal. On top of that Alice’s birthday is at the end of August so she had only just turned 4 when we waved her off Big School. Despite these initial concerns, she seems to be settling in well. There are some things however that we did not expect from her starting school:

1) Tiredness – I was prepared for tiredness, especially being a summer born baby, but I was unprepared for just how much. Almost daily we have a complete melt down about 6.15pm. What starts with a bit of whinging, quickly escalates to full on tantrum followed by face down on the carpet howling and screaming. I have been putting her into bed earlier as she obviously needs and has even been asking for it. Someone advised me that the trick is to move everything including dinner and bed earlier. So I seem to now start dinner as soon as we get home especially if I dare attempt to get her in the bath!

2) Reality Dawns – The first few days of starting school were a definite novelty. They were short days, there was lots of new and exciting things to do and see. Now reality has hit that school is happening EVERY DAY! I get asked the same questions every morning “Do I have to go AGAIN?” “When is it the weekend?” and the incessant “But I don’t want to go.” Despite the protests she does thankfully seem to enjoy it once she’s there.

3) Missing Her! – It is only been 2 weeks, but I really miss having Alice around. My youngest daughter also regularly asks where she is. Alice used to go to pre-school but somehow this seems to be a leap up from that. I was used to having her around for a couple of days with me, so it’s bizarre and a little sad now. I’m sure we will get used to it, but at the moment, it feels strange and I find myself constantly wondering what she’s up to.

4) New Routine – All of us have had to adapt to a new routine and this is still something we are getting used to. We need to leave the house earlier and this results in a regimental routine with me shouting “Breakfast!” “Get Dressed!” “Teeth!” “Toilet!” and finally “Shoes!” and “Car!” at varying intervals between 7am and 8am. I feel like a sergeant major, but with little room for error in the morning, it can, and has already gone horribly wrong for example when Alice one day refused to put her shoes on or our youngest daughter wouldn’t get off the potty. Mornings suddenly feel a lot more stressful!

5) Odd Behaviour – Along with many other new mums, we are seeing some “challenging” behaviour when Alice gets home from school as she seems to suddenly transform into a stroppy teenager. Shouting and door slamming are becoming the norm especially when I ask her to do something. Another mum said she thinks this is because they are having to be “good” all day that they let rip when they get home! I was also amazed to discover that Alice had wet herself at school which hasn’t happened since she was 2!

6) You Have No Idea What They Get Up To – Despite asking on a regular basis “What did you do at school today?” I always seem to get a similar response “Not sure” or “Can’t Remember.” Little bits of information gradually drip through to me but they might involve the most random things like the process at dinner time or what colour coat another girl was wearing. It’s infuriating as I long to be a fly on the wall and know what on earth is going on, but all you can do is be patient and wait for them to open up. I’ve also found that more general questions provoke a response like “What did you enjoy doing?” or “What did your teacher say today?”

Starting primary school is a huge event for any child. There’s a big change to the daily routine as well as being in a new environment every day and meeting new people. It’s bound to be overwhelming and this is bound to translate into odd behaviour. It can be a bit of a shock to the system for the parents as well as the kids! I suppose the key is to keep going, give them some time and (hopefully) things will soon settle into a new routine for everyone.

Has your child recently started at primary school? How are they getting on? Please let me know if you’re experiencing any of the same behaviour, or do you have any other points to add to my list? I’d love to hear your comments!