Tag Archives: reception class

The Girl has started school (and why half days should be abolished)


The Girl has started school.
The last of my brood of four has been slung into the compulsory education system, which will dominate her life for the next 14 years.
Surprisingly, I didnt cry, but more surprisingly, she did.
Now I’m not by nature a sobber, but each time one of our three sons started school, I found myself having a sniffle once back in the privacy of the car. This time, as she was bouncing around with excitement and settling easily, I was almost punching the air. ‘That’s IT! She loves it, and no more childcare fees!’ No lump in the throat, no fizzy nose.


The Boys and The Girl ready for school

She’s been in nursery at least a few days a week since she was three, and luckily for us the nursery is on the same site as the school, so she will continue to see the staff at the after- school club with her older brother, who is almost nine. (so I lied, there will actually still be some childcare fees, but not as much).
But because of this archaic and frankly annoying system of ‘transition’ in primary schools, where new kids only attend half days for the first few weeks, we are having to put her back in to nursery during the afternoons.
This completely threw her on the first day, and she sobbed, because she wanted ‘to be in school like Billy’. The next day she cried on the way in and wanted to stay home. All very out of character.
She fell asleep on the way home on the first two days and cried several times. This has thrown me, as the boys had to be dragged away from school and barely gave us a second look.
We have been asking her during bedtime chats why she cries but she doesn’t seem to know.
So, sticking to form, I’m trying bribery: a cry-free day might mean a nice surprise (she’s had her eye on that Lego for girls).
I think the half days are disruptive. It’s even worse for other parents. I know plenty who have had to take unpaid leave FOR A MONTH because the child needs collecting at 11.30, or 3, or dropping at lunchtime.
Plenty of reception teachers and nursery nurses think it’s unnecessary too.
Yes, there are four year olds who have been at home with a parent for four years, who might need time to adjust.
But most will have had some experience of nursery, and the routine of education. After all, free nursery halfdays start at age 3.
So why do so many schools insist on this ridiculous staggering of the reception intake?
There must be some evidence that it isn’t necessary or even in the interests of the children. I know at least two Northampton schools who have abandoned the half days and just start them full-time, all at the same time.
By all means admit them a day after the older kids if it helps, but please, just get them in and let them get on with it. Fewer tears, less confusion for them, less anxiety for us.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below . . .

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Transfer Day 2012 – the last of our offspring dips her toe into the school system

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.

The Girl starts school in September

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.



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