I’ll be up front with you, I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I feel the need to write about how L’s first experience of school was for both of us. So if you don’t want to read a long ramble with no discernible outcome I’d just move on, I wouldn’t blame you.
I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m dreading L starting school. Mainly because I am going to miss him so much. For however much he drives me crazy there is ten times more fun, laughter and adventure. I am going to miss hanging out with him, being able to go on fun days out whenever we fancy it and enjoying quieter attractions during term time!
I am also really worried for him. He does not make friends easily. It literally took him four years to get truly settled at nursery and not cry, cling and beg every time I dropped him off. He still has wobbles. He responds best to adults and the child to adult ratio drops significantly in reception compared to nursery. His separation anxiety has notched up a gear or three recently too. So I am worried.
I am also worried that transition period into school isn’t the best for him. He had his first settling session last week, he gets one more in two weeks time. So only two, two hour sessions, three weeks apart. For most kids I’m sure that is enough but for him, nope, he could do with more but that can’t be accomodated. I get it. It’s just a shame.
The classroom assistant went to his nursery to meet him, which I thought was lovely. L liked her. They chatted. By all accounts it went well. He was in an environment he was comfortable with, speaking one on one with an adult. I’m not surprised it went well. He’s great with other grown ups, even on a first meeting. It’s easy to see a confident child when that is actually a long way from the truth.
When it came to his first settling session he was understandably wary. He was happy to get to take his bike to school so the walk was easy, but as soon as we arrived and he saw the other children waiting to go into the class for the morning he attached himself to me and decided he didn’t want to go. It didn’t help that most of them knew each other, in fact it seemed that they all had at least one friend amongst the group. Just not us.
In the classroom all the children started playing, but not L, he glued himself to me and found us a quiet chair, just away from the hubbub. This is normal for him. Then all the parents left bar me and one other left. There was one little girl in tears, but between her mum and the teacher they got her settled and then she left. I didn’t get that help as L was quiet.
When we did get spotted I eventually managed to bargain with L that he would go off and play if I watched, so he did. It was nice to see him playing. Not interacting with any of the other children but playing. I still couldn’t leave though. Just standing up to stretch my legs resulted in worried tears and clinging. Plus I’m not one for sneaking off, I would rather say goodbye and leave him with a trusted grown up in tears then him turn round and find me gone. Whilst that may be easier on my heart I do not believe it easier for his, I couldn’t imagine turning round to find the person who love the most had snuck away. I’m not judging those who do, I get it, trust me. It’s just not for me.
So for the whole two hours I was the only remaining parent and L was a clingy, slightly angry, mess. It wasn’t a great experience if I’m honest and I don’t think L got much out of it.
It did mean that I got to have a really long chat with both the teacher and class assistant. This was brilliant as I got to really explain to them how he was and give them a bit of an insight into the things he will struggle with when it comes to school.
This really helped put my mind at rest. I felt that they both ‘got it’. I was able to say that L and Gerry the Giraffe come as a pair and to start with he will need Gerry and it’s not something that we are prepared to be given up to start with. We discussed how drop offs go, that I don’t do sneaking off and that we will most likely have to have someone holding him in tears as I leave. They were fine with that, just asked that I wait until the other kids are settled so they have spare hands, that’s good with me. We also discussed the things he’s really good at and the things he enjoys so they have some positive distraction techniques until he gets to them and they get to know him.
L was really positive about his day at school, telling everyone how much he enjoyed it. I mean this is odd as I was there watching him not enjoy it, but also, I’m happy to roll with his positivity so we are encouraging that.
He’s excited about getting school uniform, so I’m taking him with me everytime I pick up a bit more. Tesco for some shirts and trousers, followed by a Costa. Positive. Clarke’s for plain black shoes, that happen to have airplanes on the soles and teeny flashing lights. Positive, well for him, my bank account not so much! The school subtly asked his favourite colour and made sure his new book bag that they give each new child was blue. Positive.
We also took him to the school fete so he would have another day at the school but also just be there to have fun. He chatted away to one of the year one teachers who had met at snack time. He donated some prizes to the lucky dip and said that made him feel happy. He also ate the largest hot dog in the world, won sweets on hook a duck and prizes on the lucky dip. Not to mention he left with a massive slice of cake. So that was all super positive.
I don’t think there is much more I can do to get him prepared in a positive way. Though if any of you have any tips, please, please let me know. I’ll take all the help I can get. As despite it all, all the positives and all things he is telling me, I am still really worried about him actually starting.
God, if you made it to the end of this thanks, you’re a trooper. I feel better for writing, I always do. No further forward but better for having spoken about it.