So my 4 year old starts school in three weeks time. It’s a momentous occasion; a nerve-wracking experience encountering new friends, new rules, new routines and new teachers – and that’s just from my perspective. From hers it’s simply a case of getting some new shoes and book bag.
Securing the school place
Me: The tension had been mounting all day, would we get our first choice? The email finally arrived at 5pm, despite the fact the computer had been checked and refreshed roughly x100 times in the preceding hours. Upon receiving the news there were tears, a hug with a friend, wine and phonecalls.
Her: A disapproving 10 second glance up from her plate of fish fingers.
School uniform shopping
Me: Debate whether to buy everything on the list and wonder whether to start a spreadsheet to work out how many white tops will be required vs how many I can physically wash in a week. No, that would just be utterly sad. Mull over whether to go down the “official” clothing route, or just buy cheap. Eventually visit the school shop as part of a family outing.
Her: Enquire about the colour of the uniform, shrug and nod head in approval.
Meet the teachers
Me: Discuss forthcoming session all week, investigate the name of the Teaching Assistant and provide a full picture for the 4 year old. Locate other children in the same class and start to organise play dates. Arrive 10 mins early, stand at the front, engage with teacher and fellow parents in the staff room.
Her: nod in general direction of the teacher, ignore mother’s relentless diatribe about school and teacher (what’s his name again?) Check out the sandpit and give approval to climbing frame.
Family / teacher picnic
Me: Discuss at length, arrange to arrive with another family, network with other parents from the class, join a WhatsApp group in its honour.
Her: spend entire 2 hours on the back of a Go-cart with Eddie.
School lunch chat
Me: prepare her for a varied meal planner, which she won’t always like. Reassure her that she is not to worry about school dinners, and that there will always be an alternative.
Her: pick out the word ‘bread’ from mother’s ramblings.
Me: Cry at final drop off, hug teacher, arrive laden with gifts and a heartfelt card, sob at the end of term ceremony.
Her: enquire where the cakes are.
Mentally prepare her for school
Me: Talk about the teacher, what will happen during her school day and how she must behave and do what she’s told. Explain there will be no more clothing arguments as school uniform will now be required. Reassure her that it will be terribly overwhelming and tiring to begin with, and how she may miss her familiar friends, but that this is a new adventure, a new chapter, the start of the rest of her life.
Her: Peter Rabbit is about to save Lilly Bobtail’s carrot on the telly..grr…urgh..what’s that annoying noise? Peter is nearly there….rabbits are brave….what IS that noise? Sounds like someone talking….watch out Peter….are they talking to me? Oh no, here comes Old Brown!