I’M sitting here wondering how The Girl got on at her First Morning At School. And realising what a wreck I’m going to be when she starts properly in September.
Today across most of the country is Transfer Day, when four-year-olds and 11-year-olds get the chance to visit their new classroom. Those already in the system, like our eight, 13 and 14 year olds, will be moving across school to a different classroom to meet their new teacher for September.
It’s supposed to give the newbies a little taste of school (whether it be a new primary or secondary) so when they start for real it doesn’t come as a shock. The Girl already attends a nursery attached to the school so is familiar with the basic setting. However, the benefit of familiarity doesn’t apply to all. Another little girl wandered over to me and The Girl this morning as we were waiting to go in and said: “I’m new and I don’t know anyone here yet.”
Bless her, and her anxious mum. She told us her name and Our Girl quickly dragged her off to meet the Girl Posse, all moving up from nursery and more than happy to have more females to swell their ranks. Potentially a life-long friendship made in a matter in seconds.
Transfer Day tends to be an icebreaker for the parents as well as the kids, at primary school at least. At secondary school, your 11-year-old is less likely to want you to hang around and kiss them goodbye at the gates. But at primary school, chances are you’ll come to know the other parents on the ‘gates’ rather well over the next seven years.
Most schools have an open day for new parents to give you an idea of what’s in store. There’s also a ‘home visit’ organised by the teaching staff, who come to your home in early September, before the official start of Reception Class, so they get an idea of what life at home is like. Yes, they’re checking up on you, but for good reason.
The Girl went off to sit on the carpet with her new class without so much as a backward glance, so I’m not worried about how she’ll cope. Nursery has taught her the basics required – sitting quietly on the book carpet with arms and legs crossed, going to the loo unaided, waiting your turn at the water table, hanging up your coat on a peg and ‘being kind’ to everyone.
There were very few wailers this morning, but the band of mums and dads hovering at the door knew that as soon as they were out of sight, they’d probably be forgotten as the excitement of the new situation and the care of the professional school staff distracted them from the unfamiliarity of it all.
Another ‘mum of many’ and I, leaving our youngest daughters in the care of their new teachers, admitted it seemed harder this time knowing that it would be our last Reception class transfer day, as neither of us have, or plan to have, any more children.
“I have a feeling it will be me in tears in September,” she said. And I suspect I may be joining her, discreetly, over a box of tissues.
I’ve never really suffered more than a lump in the throat when handing over the boys to the compulsory education system, which will consume their lives for the next 14 years. But waving off The Girl will mean I’m also waving goodbye to a part of my own life; the part filled with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, nappies, tantrums, and the delight of having a little person who throws themselves into your arms without any self-consciousness because You Are 100% Theirs.
However, having been this three times before doesn’t seem to have made me any more efficient or organised. Somehow, somewhere between school and home, I’ve managed to mislay all the paperwork I need to fill in and the school uniform I bought at open evening.