A day of many firsts today.
1. I didn't cry when little one went back to school
2. I found time to leave the office at lunchtime and went for a jog (!!)
3. I encouraged a friend to start her own blog AND showed her how to do it
So all in all a very good day. Little one bounced off to school in a Tigger-like fashion, desperately eager to get there. Meanwhile I kept it together and am now beginning to feel almost guilty about my calm, measured reaction to his return to the classroom, as opposed to the lump in my throat, whimpering every time he looked in my direction and unladylike sobbing that last year's 'first day at school' brought on.
On the subject of first days at school, yesterday's Twitter discussion led by Kirstie Allsop (http://twitter.com/KirstieMAllsopp) about the optimum age for kids to start school sparked some interesting comments. My little one is the youngest in his class and so was the youngest in the school last year. He turned 4 and went to school 3 days later, doing full days from the outset. While he loved school he was completely exhausted for the whole of the 1st term and regularly missed school due to illness.
I spent most of last summer fretting about it and trying to understand how my 'baby' could be forced to wear a uniform and sit in class all day, however, luckily for us, he absolutely loved every minute of it and used to cry when holidays came around!
Obviously every child is different and I know that what works for some won't work for others, however, I think there are a few reasons for him being so happy:
1. he goes to a really small school - it's very local and it's a one class intake so not too intimidating on day one
2. the school's view is that staggered starts are actually more difficult for little ones as when they join they soon become aware that they don't know the same things about learning, the routines, the friendships as the others and so can feel a little left out or take longer to get up to speed.
3. the school is hugely understanding and respects the different ages of the children, particularly in Reception. They can go at their own pace and I loved the fact that my son was blissfully unaware of anyone else's levels, rate of progression and learning until the last few weeks of the year when he suddenly clicked! I think preserving this and appreciating that they will all develop differently is brilliant.
Also, for anyone worried about very young ones starting school this year, I found that the difference between first term and second term was enormous. Suddenly his stamina improved (he wasn't so grumpy after school!) and he didn't have one day off for the rest of the year which was a big surprise. My tips, for what they're worth, are:
- proper snacks after school (sandwich, drink etc.) regardless of what they've had / tell you they've had at lunch - gives them the energy to keep going through to teatime, bathtime etc.
- v quiet holidays - we did nothing at half term and Xmas and just allowed him to relax which helped a lot
- TV - he really needed to lie down and just switch his brain off after school so I just went with it. Once he'd had some food and a rest he brightened up again so I think the key is not to make too many rules for yourself / the kids and not to try to fight it. The new routine soon works itself out and everyone settles down.
So that's it, best of luck to all mums and little ones settling into new schools this autumn!!