So. All change.
That beautiful nature filled forest school I gushed about last time, is now a distant memory. The green uniform is out and the blue uniform is in!
Halle was due to start school on the Monday. I had everything ready to go. Uniform hung, school shoes ready.
Then I got the call. The one I had been waiting for and desperately trying to organize for weeks and until now, hadheard nothing.
You see we have actually moved and the new house is over half an hours drive from our old home. After speaking with friends who are teachers and getting the advice from family & friends, unsure how to go about settling Halle into school with as little fight back as possible. We decided that we would try to get her a place at the school near to our new house and make the long journey for the few weeks before we move.
So the first day at school was pushed back by another 2 weeks. Slight relief but also feeling like it was dragging out the first day jitters.
Halle’s new, new, school is swish! It is quite a new building, with a park right next door. A walk through a beautiful nature trail to get there and loads of new friends to be made.
Our first day at school was just a settling in session for an hour. None of the Reception children had been able to visit the school, due to COVID, and had only met their teachers over zoom. Unfortunately, with Halle getting a place last minute she hadn’thad a chance to even meet her teacher over zoom. So, this was all new for her again.
When we arrived, we made our way around the school’s one-way system to her classroom. The school have been great in creating separate play areas for each class, to keep to their bubbles. There were only 6 children per settling in session, again to keep the numbers low. We took a picnic blanket and set it down outside her classroom. The teacher introduced herself and then asked the children to do the same. Halle was asked to introduce herself first and tell everyone who she had bought with her.
‘My name is Halle and I have bought Kirstie with me!’
Laughter! All the parents, including me, laughed. Not at her as such, but at how cute it was that she has introduced me by my real name.
After the laughter had stopped her teacher asked who I was. To which she replied ‘Mummy’. I looked down at Halle, who had shrunk into my side. She was embarrassed and looked as though she was about to cry. Sending a massive jolt through my heart. Right then I realised she is just like me. And that this moment would stick as one of her earliest memories of being embarrassed.
Do you have any memories like that? That have stuck with you for what feels like forever? I do. And one of those is from my first day of school and being too scared to put my hand up for the loo and wetting myself. Then the teacher calling me out in front of the whole class of children. Being taken out of the classroom and told off in the toilets and given some disgusting spare knickers to change into. I remember being so upset and crying and refusing to wear them.
After the session was over we made the long drive back to the old house and Halle said to me, ‘Mummy, please can you not tell anyone that I called you Kirstie. I don’t like it when everyone laughs at me.’
It broke my heart to think that she felt we were laughing at her and mocking her for something so innocent. I explained that we weren’t laughing at her and that she wasn’t wrong when she introduced me by name and that it was a funny shock that she came out with it.
So please don’t tell her I told you!
The first proper day of school arrived and again I was organized. Uniform, shoes, bottle, all ready to go. We left with plenty of time to beat the traffic and ended up sitting in the car for 20 minutes before we could go in. We could both feel the tension building. As we walked round to her classroom I could feel her little hand shaking in mine.
‘Sweet pea, are you cold?’
‘No mummy, I’m really scared.’
She was so nervous. I did not want to leave her. I wanted to make sure she was safe and that the other children were friendly and that she didn’t feel alone.
As we got closer to the door she held on tighter to me. Getting closer to my side.
Her teacher is super enthusiastic and was stood at the door greeting each child as they arrive. Trying her absolute best to make all of them feel safe and welcome. Her little trick to get Halle through the door is to cover her eyes and count to ten to see if she can make it through the door without being seen.
She was in the classroom. No tears. Smiling. Showing me what a big brave girl she has turned into. When did my big girl get so grown up?
Up until this week we have barely had any tears. The Monday morning happened. I think it hit her over the weekend that school is for a very, very, long time!! Not just a few days a week like nursery and I certainly cant let her have a sneaky day off if she is feeling tired.
We had tears. We had kicking. We had throwing.
I will be honest and say that I feel embarrassed to talk about it, but I know for a fact that there are so many other parents out there struggling with the same situation. Struggling to deal with their children’s behavior and thinking they’re alone. I hate to see her going though this and also hate that no matter which way I try there is no getting through to her in that moment.
I had to bundle her into the car. Hair not even up. Looking a mess. But I knew that if I had given in and just said fine stay at home then she would take full advantage of this and expect it everyday!
I asked for help! I reached out and spoke to people and am so glad that I did. I was given some great advice, so for those struggling with separation anxiety with little ones going into school here is the advice I was given.
1. Walk to school with another mum and their child, preferably from the same class.
2. The cuddle button! Draw matching hearts on your arms so when they’re feeling anxious or missing you they can press the button and be reminded of you and send you a hug.
3. The clothes fairy!! Place each item of school clothing on a step. Tell them the clothes fairy left them for them to get dressed as they come down stairs.
These may not work for everyone but for me this morning they certainly did. I hope at least one of these tips will help you to get them out the door feeling a little less anxious.
Tears and tantrums aside she is coming home every day teaching me new letters that she has learnt. She even bought home her first reading book.
Biff, Chip & Kipper. Bring back any memories??
These past few weeks have been a build up of so many emotions. So many changes all at once. But this kid is one tough cookie and is continuing to surprise us every day with the knowledge she is taking on board already.
You are destined for great things kiddo. In this I believe.