Pages

Friday, 20 September 2013

School Daze

It has been just over two weeks since Pip started school.  His energy and enthusiasm have been wonderful, he can’t wait to get there each day.  I am amazed at how well he has coped with the transition; the new routine, new rules and regulations, the new repertoire of foods served up at lunchtime by the school’s kitchen. My previously picky son even declared this week that oriental noodles with salmon were ‘quite nice’.  A plate which I’m sure, only two weeks ago would have caused a hysterical reaction by it’s mere appearance at the table. Who’d have thought it?

In stark contrast to Pip, I have found getting used to our new routine rather tricky.  In order to ensure we are in the playground for 8.30am when the bell rings each day, my bedside alarm is now set for 6.35am each morning. This is the time I need to get up if I want to have a shower and make some attempt to make myself look as if I haven’t been dragged through a hedge backwards. If I rise past 7am, there just isn’t time. Pip likes to coax himself into the day S.L.O.W.L.Y.  He has to be cajoled to eat breakfast - every spoonful is a victory. My worries about him not eating the school lunch have meant I’ve been encouraging him even more than usual to eat well at the start of the day. The kitchen has become an early morning cafe; pancakes one morning, bacon sandwiches another, poached eggs another. Thank goodness for my husband and his culinary skills. 

I am trying hard to be organised.  To lay all the uniform out the night before, to put the book bag with all it’s necessary pieces of paper by the front door, yet, despite all this, despite getting up two hours before we need to be at school, it is still a rush.  Two weeks in; this morning I found myself at the school gate with unwashed hair, no make up and EB in his babygro (counterbalanced with the poshest cardigan I could find so he didn’t look completely unloved.) Pip looked spotless but otherwise I, and my toast encrusted baby, looked rather dishevelled.  I saw a couple of mothers looking at EB in his babygro; I wondered if they disapproved.  Yet, I refused to feel guilty, refused to feel inadequate.  I am not going to succumb to school gate pressure. I’m determined to keep it real. Sometimes (like last night) you are up half the night with a crying teething baby. Sometimes it is really hard to get two children out the house for 8am. Sometimes I will turn up looking presentable, and other days, like today, a mad haired zombie. 

Getting to school on time is only half my challenge; it’s all the other things that I need to remember too.  Games on Monday; take the kit to school and get changed. Games on Thursday; wear the kit to school and stay in it all day. Different days of the week for library books, phonics, word strips, show and tell. And so it goes on.  In the past week timetables have attached themselves to kitchen cupboards and phonics strips have sprouted from the fridge door.  It’s a new world - one I’m struggling to get to grips with far more than Pip is. 

Last week there was a curriculum evening at the school, a chance to hear about the different focus areas for the year and see some of the work the children had produced in their first week or so in class. I was heartened to see that many of the things that Pip is going to be doing in his first year are a continuation of the topics studied at his pre-school.  That it won’t all be new to him, that some things will get the chance to bed in further.  The solidification of existing knowledge rather than 100% new knowledge in itself.   This past couple of weeks have made me realise how important pre-school is in preparing children properly for school.  Pip’s carefree, happy disposition each morning, is I’m sure, partly due to his positive pre-school experience.

In the classroom examples of the work the children had completed were on show. Hand drawn pictures and examples of, ‘gluing and sticking’ as Pip refers to it.  I was struck by the huge gulf in the abilities of the children, evident from the work exhibited.  Pip is a June baby and one of the younger children in his class, and it shows.  The gulf in fine motor skills, in being able to hold a pencil properly, even, being able to concentrate for a prolonged period of time.  Heartening, in the sense one can see how much more a child of 9 months older can do. I found it hard to look at all the work on show, Pip's name with some of the letters written back to front in places and not compare, not worry.  Not think, will the other children be mean to him if he isn’t as good at them at this stage? 

I peered through the window one morning after drop off, and he had started colouring the letters on a pamphlet. I noted, he was doing it upside down. Concentrating deeply, his tongue waggling side to side, as it does when he concentrates.   A little boy sat down to him, his Mother settling him in, and as I watched, I lip read their conversation; "Look Mummy, that boy is doing it wrong. He’s doing it upside down". "He's doing it how he wants to do it" said the mother.  My heart ached slightly for Pip. But so deep in concentration, he was oblivious to anyone else’s observations and I was glad. I don’t want him to worry about what he can’t do, just to enjoy learning all the new things that he can do.

These are new days for all of us. For Pip, for me, for us as a family.  In the past two weeks Pip already seems to have grown so much; the effect of new influences showing themselves positively in manners and remembering to wash one's hands, and in talk of  'light savers' (I think he means lightsabers) and 'Power Strangers'. As I wave the phonics book at Pip nightly, I wonder, are we doing too much homework or just the right measure? I want to help him learn, but I don’t want to be overbearing.  Am I pronouncing the phonics correctly? Am I sounding out the spellings correctly? All things I wonder - nightly.  I didn't expect Pip's school life to consume me as much as it is.

Letter after letter arrive from the school via the ‘book bag’.  A fancy dress outfit for when?  Wear jeans on Friday and take £1? A food contribution for Harvest festival? Here's how you can help out with the school charities. There’s a lot of stuff for this mother to remember.  


I’ve bought a diary - forget school gate style - I just need to  get seriously organised.

16 comments:

  1. Oh gosh! School sounds like an organisational nightmare for parents! Did you buy various coloured pens for your diary too? ;)

    Re EB in babygro - this is so silly isn't it? They're babies - why does it matter what they wear and when? Yet I always feel like I've failed B if she goes out in one!!
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do indeed have various coloured pens! Purple and green are my faves.

      Delete
  2. Absolutely! Getting used to school is as much of a challenge for mums as it is for children...scrap that, MORE of a challenge for mums! Get used to the alarm going off at 6.30, mine still does even though 2 of mine are at Secondary and one is now a Junior! The amount of paperwork and emails coming from school is downright ludicrous, there's no way anyone can keep up with it all. Don't stress yourself too much x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The amount of paperwork is ridiculous - it's taking me a while to get my head around it all :0)

      Delete
  3. I have all this to come next year. But we did have the jeans day thingy today at pre-school and I forgot the pound! (I was told off by the head teacher). I take my hat off to you - you are juggling all this with a young baby, and you are still getting used to the new routine. Try not to stress your self with Pip's learning, he is one of the youngest and still at this age, there is a big difference in learning abilities - as they are all growing so rapidly. The main thing is that he is coming home happy and enjoying his time at his new school. The rest will come... (6.30 am is my definition of hell...). XXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your supportive comment, you are right, the main thing is that he is coming home happy and enjoying his new school x

      Delete
  4. Ha, ha! This brings back memories of last year. First thing I did was buy a diary and write everything in it, and pin everything of importance to the wall near the computer and diary. Belt and braces. My little man called them light savers, too! How cute to hear that your little man does the same. I wonder how the families at our school with three, four, five, six children cope. They must be super organised or things must fall through the cracks. It takes all my time to keep track of one child. If your school is a good school, they won't let anyone make fun of anyone else for anything like that, and it all evens out as they get older. We have to get up at 6.30 too, for 8.40 start (we leave at 8.20). You are not alone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I honestly don't know how families with multiple children cope - do the mother's get up at 4am I wonder? That said, I was up at 5.40am today...and we still got to school one second before the bell went!

      Delete
  5. So wonderful that Pip has settled in so well but my word, it sounds like a logistic and organisational nightmare. How are you not completely exhausted? I'm tired just thinking about it. I've just bought a Sep - Sep school year diary as my head has become like a sieve recently. We rarely have to be anywhere or do anything in particular and yet I still forget everything. How long can I keep blaming baby brain for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, you're ahead of the curve already - getting yourself into the mindset of the academic year. I'm sure you'll be fine by the time your turn comes :0)

      Delete
  6. Pleased Pip is doing well, I also insist (you knew I would) on breakfast being eaten before we set out to pre-school, I have told them so too, so if we are late by 3 minutes we have our breakfast to blame!
    I found once TC stared nursery in January she just sat & ate with the children and anything they did, contrary Mary!!
    As for 6.35am, middle.of.the.night! We love our routine and that TC sleeps till 8.30 each morning. Can you blame me for not looking forward to the school years again :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TC sleeps until 8.30am? *Weeps and laments unfairness of it all*. Going to school is going to be an early start for you all then! x

      Delete
  7. I am dreading having to be out for school hours every day, it's hard enough with just a few at the moment! I think I will be much like you in the sense that I will find it harder than Alex. And why are they always so slow when you HAVE to be out that door! I am glad that he is enjoying it though, perhaps seeing others eating the same foods is helping him with his eating too by the sounds of. Sometimes baby grows are a must after a rough night-if EB is anything like Sam the amount of time I try to get him dressed whilst he wriggles free I could be half way down the road! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, EB is a mega wriggler too. And the worst thing, I battle to get him dressed and two seconds before we're due to leave- he does a poo - so the battle begins all over again!

      Delete
  8. So glad he's settling in so well. I find a big calendar on the wall more helpful than a diary, tbh - especially when the second has a social life! It never fails to amaze (and annoy) me about the stuff they'll eat with other people but would turn up their noses to at home!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Hope your little chap is too. x

      Delete