My middle man, wee B starts school today. I cannot believe he has reached that age already! It seems like only yesterday we were bringing him home for the first time. Since then we have had lots of firsts: first smile, tooth, hand clap, sit up, steps, words. He has always been so capable. My little sponge, soaking up the world around him and asking twenty million questions about each tiny thing he encounters along the way.
He’s only just over 16 months younger than J and his development has also encouraged and helped J to do certain things too. He mostly enjoys helping his brother and often ‘translates’ what J wants (ie tells us J wants it because it’s really what he wants!) Today marked another major milestone in his little world. In his own words he’s ‘a big school boy now’ 😢 In many ways he’s so grown up and I definitely think he’s ready for school, though in other ways he is still my baby boy who needs reassurance and cuddles from his mum.
As a teacher I have seen many first days at school so I should really be prepared for this, right?
I have held many little hands, spoken many soft and encouraging words and wiped many tears (mostly parents!) Each time I felt empathy for the parents and children involved (or at least I thought I did.) J started school last year and, as I was on maternity leave, I was there to see it. This year, however, I will have my own class full of little people to cajole in the door with a sad wave to their mums after having spent more time with them over the holidays. I won’t be there to see my B do the same. I didn’t think I would find this as hard but I really do. It’s such a big step for him and I know he will be anxious on the inside. He can be such a wee worrier!
I can picture how he will walk into line and away with his teacher. His little face showing how unsure he is, his head slightly bowed and that note of anxiety you can hear in his voice as he shakily says ‘bye’. In some ways I’m sad I won’t be there to reassure him and in other ways I know it’s the best thing. He can be a bit of a mummy’s boy and when I’m there he doesn’t want to leave me. I think it would actually make it harder for him to go in if I was there. Therefore, I have chosen to stay away and instead nip up at home time to see him finish his first big day. (My boss has been good enough to accommodate me doing this too.)
My hopes for him today are:
- His teacher will be kind and understand his little anxieties and fears.
- He will make new friends and have the confidence to join in with others.
- He will learn lots of new things and enjoy his new experiences.
- He will settle well into his new surroundings and begin to be less worried about going.
- The dining hall won’t be too overwhelming and scary, that he will cope with this very different experience and still be able to eat some lunch.
- His older ‘buddy’ will show patience and understanding; helping him to explore his new surroundings and find out where everything is and how it all works.
- He will find the ability to contribute to class discussions and not just be the little quiet boy in the corner.
- He will learn to stand up for himself when needed and not let others walk all over him.
- He will develop a positive relationship with his teacher that will make up for missing us whilst he’s there.
You see teachers have the same fears and hopes for their own children as you do; we understand how you feel when you bring your little one to us for the first time. Don’t worry, we will take good care of them, nurture them, listen to their fears of worries and celebrate all of the things they do well or when they try so hard. They are in good hands and all you need to do is make sure you have plenty of cuddles and encouraging smiles to give when you pick them up, listen to what they have learned and share in their excitement. Then be prepared for them crying again the next day, no matter how good a time they had!
How did everyone else’s little ones settle at school? I think it’s actually more heart-wrenching for the parents, don’t you?