Parenting School and Learning
Maria Martin  

Starting School – The First Term

A year ago, the first Mummykind baby was just starting school. Of course that first term was full of firsts for him and us. Now he is in his second year of school and I found some of my musings from the time in my dusty drafts folder. I thought I would take a look back and share some of the ‘firsts’ of that first term.

The First School Run

The smoothest school run all term was that very first day if you can believe it. Maybe because he had been looking forward to starting school for months. We got up on time (even with a newborn in the house) and breakfast went down quickly, uniform went on excitedly and the sun was shining so off we went with plenty of time to spare.

School is just over a mile away and he kept up the whole way, beaming with pride in his new uniform all the way. (Now he asks to be carried from about half way if my husband is with us. He must know I would say no…) When we arrived at school we had to walk him round to his classroom and drop him off. I had no concerns about him just getting on with it, he has always settled well in new places. There were some tears from other children when we arrived but not mine, off he went without even saying goodbye. The whole thing felt rather unceremonious if I’m honest!

The First day of term

The first day of term for Reception class (kindergarten to our friends across the pond) was a week later than the rest of the school. Everybody else was already settled in and the teachers could focus on the little ones starting school. The first day was a half day, as were the next four days. As far as I can tell he spent the day playing with his new friends – nobody from his preschool or toddler group went to the same primary school so he didn’t know anybody! But, as is his style, everyone is his friend from the moment they meet. I was worried that the bigger class and older children would overwhelm him, being the baby of the year group. He was having so much fun that he was actually pretty miffed to see me at pick up time.

The First School Dinner

All of the parents were invited to join their reception children at lunchtime to help them settle into the dinner hall on the first day. School dinners make me nervous because of his allergies. They have a set three weekly rolling menu and on some days all he can/will eat is plain pasta. The school is good at catering for his allergies but I can’t expect them to cater to his selective eating as well. On the first day he did have plain pasta and on subsequent days he was able to have some proper hot dinners. I now find it easier to send him with a packed lunch once or twice a week and let him have the plain pasta every so often. Don’t bee fooled, he would eat plain pasta all day every day if I let him. He doesn’t feel like he is missing out!

A few things made me anxious on that first shared lunch time. The kitchen staff didn’t know not to give him milk because his care plan hadn’t been finalised. When we sat down to eat there was yoghurt and grated cheese flying everywhere because some of the older children were not very good at using their cutlery. It was time for me to trust my son to not touch those things. It’s a lot of responsibility for a four year old but he has handled it like a champ.

The First Parents’ Evening

This is the most adult thing I have ever done. There are lots of things you have to be an adult to do but this really takes the biscuit. I am married with two kids, I drive, and I own a company. None of that feels as grown up as being the parent at parents’ evening. My own personal revelation aside, my son has been thriving since starting school. I had considered keeping him back a year as a summer born, particularly as he was still almost entirely non-verbal at 2 years old. My worries started to subside.

The First School Event

My son was so ready for it. The school put on an autumn faire with rides and games and a talent show. Some of the teachers dressed up for a hilarious performance which left us all giggling. There was even a little bit of food that he could eat before the evening closed with fireworks. It was amazing to be enveloped in the community and it was so fun. It was a brilliant way to close the term, with all of its ‘firsts’.

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