New beginnings

Katie, Alice and Matthew have all finished their first full week back at school. Katie has moved to her new school now, Alice finished infants last year and has moved into the juniors, and Matthew has started school for the first time.

It was very reassuring to see that Katie was actually excited to start her new school. Her attitude to school has been either disinterest or misery for so long that I wondered if the damage was done and she’d never have any positive views on school. She went back a day later than Alice and Matthew so we had a lovely day together just me and her before she started, which is always good because she loves one to one time. The day she started school she was hopping up and down, smiling, excited to put her new uniform on, and she walked straight in with no hesitation. Her school sent me a text part way through the day to say she was doing fine, and when I picked her up she came out with a massive grin on her face. It’s only a 20 minute drive from her school to home but she didn’t stop talking about all the good things that had happened. I literally can’t remember the last time a) she volunteered information about school without being asked and b) was just chatting about her day rather than worrying or complaining. She was like a different child.

At the risk of being a complete pessimist, I’m not expecting this to last! I’m sure at some point the novelty will wear off and there will be things she doesn’t like. By the end of the week she was complaining about the teacher who runs breakfast club. But it was amazing that she had such a good start and I hope it will boost her confidence to be in a school that does seem to care about her well being and what she needs. I hope she will be more comfortable day to day in an environment that is calmer and quieter and where she is allowed to leave the classroom and access fiddle toys when she needs to. She has still said the classroom is too loud, but she’s now in a class of 15 compared to a class of 30 at her last school, and a school of 47 children instead of 420, so however you look at it her school life is nowhere near as chaotic as it was! Katie goes to breakfast club at her new school (so that we can drop her off first and then take Alice and Matthew to their school) which also works in her favour because there are only 3 or 4 of them there that early. It means she gets to school before everyone else so isn’t arriving with a bunch of other people.

Her class is a year 5/6 mixed class and the year 6s can apply to be head boy / girl and the year 5s can apply to be deputy head boy/girl. Katie said she didn’t think she should apply to be deputy head girl since she’s new there, but she was thinking of putting herself forward to be a librarian. The fact she wants to get involved in school life is a massive thumbs up!

I have had an email from her class teacher today asking to arrange a time to catch up on how Katie is settling in, so I’m going to go and see him on Wednesday. It’s nothing amazing and nothing to jump up and down about but it’s a weight off my shoulders to know that things are being followed up and there appears to be a genuine interest in Katie. Her old school never once approached me unless it was to ask me to pick her up because she was “ill” (for ill read struggling with sensory issues that displayed themselves as a headache and desperation to escape school and that disappeared when she got home). They never asked what they could do to support her and when I made suggestions or asked for meetings they dragged their heels and couldn’t be bothered.

Matthew has seemingly settled straight in to school. There were about 5 others from his preschool who have started school with him so he knew a few of them but now has about another 50 kids to get to know! He came out very happy after his first day because he got to choose his pudding with lunch, and that seems to be the highlight of his school career so far. He also had a big ink splodge on his brand new jumper, and announced that he was getting married to one of the girls in his class. So far so good.

I can’t believe the speed with which he seems to have forgotten his preschool. He absolutely loved it there and was excited to go every day. But as soon as he’d done his ‘stay and play’ session at school he announced that he was ready to leave preschool now thank you very much and hasn’t really mentioned it since starting school. I’m pretty sure I’m missing preschool more than he is! I’m really pleased he’s managing the transition well and I’m not at all sad that my ‘baby’ is growing up or anything like that, but I did love preschool. It was such a lovely environment where the kids are all at the age where everything is exciting and they’re encouraged to explore and play with anything they like, and school just isn’t that same atmosphere.

Alice….well she’s the ‘easy’ child and my hopes for her are just that she continues to enjoy school in the way she always has. She spent the summer holidays looking forward to going back, she’s come home each day full of news about who she’s played with and how much she likes her new teacher, and she spent the weekend looking forward to Monday. She’s happy because she’s been moved up two reading levels since going back. She’s getting packed lunches now instead of a cooked lunch (because she was only eligible for free school dinners as an infant so we’d have to pay for them this year and I’m too tight!) so she’s sad she won’t get ‘fish finger Friday’ anymore but she likes making her sandwiches and choosing snacks for her lunch box. Happy days.

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