This week we had the second and third of three of sessions to introduce Little H, Sam and I to her new primary school. Last week we started it off with a 30 minute visit for Little H and I, where we spent the time mixed with the existing reception classes and got a chance to meet her teacher and some of the teaching assistants. It was a really great visit and a real success as Little H enjoyed it tremendously. I couldn’t have been happier with how it went as we walked back to the car. For the rest of the week she just kept talking about going back and she got her wish on Wednesday morning when she got to spend two whole hours with her future classmates. I dropped her off and walked home with her scooter and helmet with my brain mulling over how odd it felt leaving her somewhere different. By the end of the day, after Sam and I had been to a parents-only afternoon session with the Head and Early Years lead, it was very clear to me that Little H might be more than ready for her move to primary school…but I’m not!
We have obviously known this stage life was coming for a long time. I don’t think she had even reached two when I realised at some point she’d need to go to school and decided to check what her starting year would be. Since then, September 2019 has been etched in my mind. Last autumn I started the school research (of limited use as you only have limited control over where you get allocated but I won’t dwell on that here…) and arranged visits which Sam and I went on through into January. Then the application went in and thoughts were simply on allocation day (and continuing interests weeks). So when all of those milestones dates had passed and we knew for sure where she was going, the reality that this is actually happening now hit me harder than I thought.
It’s not that I have any concerns about Little H going to school. Truth be told I think the environment and the challenges it brings will be great for her. But with that new opportunity comes an end to a happy and successful era – her time at nursery. For 3.5 years she’s been at the same setting. They have supported her from babyhood to the independent and social child she is today. Many of the staff have consistently seen her through that transition and are very key supports in her life. And in two months she will leave one Thursday and never go back. It’s a thought that makes me feel quite sad as it’s been such a happy time for her and our routine with the nursery is something comfortably ingrained into our lives.
But as she moves on, so the routine will change. Because of Little Z we will still have that nursery routine but now school patterns and holidays need to mesh into it. I’ll be honest, we don’t really know what is expected of us and what to expect in return. My friends with school age children say that unfortunately that is how it is – much more vague than a nursery experience. And whilst I’m sure it’s sufficient, it’s still daunting as a parent.
Then there are, of course, her friends. So many of the children she’s in preschool with have been there as long as her. She’s known them since before she can remember knowing them. She’s a resilient child at a resilient age, but I’m sure she’ll miss them tremendously for a while as she starts at the beginning, building new friendships with her classmates. About a week ago the first of her friends left nursery never to return and whilst on the day Little H was quite blasé about it, the following morning she was quite emotional. She’s too young to realise the enormity of the change and what she will be leaving behind. I’m incredibly glad for that but I also know that it will dawn on her at some point when she longs to see her preschool friends again. That’s going to be a challenging time for Sam and I as parents because it’s a fact of life she needs to learn to deal with but it won’t make her any less sad.
I suppose also, for me as a mother, it’s the biggest milestone event we’ve hit so far. Moving between rooms at nursery was significant but she was still in a place where we chose for her to be and where we could take her out at any point. As she moves into school, she is expected to be there. We have to march to the drum beat of the Local Education Authority and school. She’s no longer going to be a “little” girl but a school child at the start of that long educational road we are all fortunate to walk down.
For all the doom, gloom and sadness in my words. I am excited for the time ahead. Exactly as when I went back to work earlier this year and settled Little Z at nursery, I need to just grit my teeth and ride through these unknowns. By Christmas I’m sure (and hope) we’ll back to everything being second nature to us. The silver linings of my eldest baby being kept away from me 5 days a week instead of 3 are that I get some 1-1 time back with Little Z during those Monday and Friday school hours. Plus some time for me perhaps until she stops napping next year! And not forgetting those Little H-only days during school holidays whilst her sister continues at nursery.
I’ve never been good at accepting change. I can deal with it but it takes me time to accept it. This will be no different. So as always, it’s time for some deep breaths, lots of lists and a nice cup of tea!