She’s a big girl now! – Starting school

For Delphine, Helen, Bree, Lydia… and us!

The time of starting school is here. For those of us who have chosen that path. Today it was Merrily’s turn to start playschool. So many friends’ children are starting school or playschool this week.

Days of jittery tummies and secret tears – for mamas and kiddies… and even daddys! Another crucial weaning has arrived. Perhaps we have been counting down the days. But now it’s here. And we’re not quite so sure. We mentally barter for another day, or week.

How can it have come to this? Our little baby, who we held in our arms a blink ago is here with an oversized rucksack on their backs. Containing a lunchbox made with care, full of their favourites, infused with love, as though each bite of peanut butter sandwich will communicate our love, our best wishes for our precious, brave child venturing out alone in this uncertain world.

There they are dressed and ready. Shiny shoes and a jumper a size too big. The front door echoes as we pull it closed. The queasiness rises. We clutch their hand, smooth their hair, sending up silent prayers.

When we get there, we attend to practical details – the location of pegs, toilets, familiar faces. we hover, and hover. Then move to go.

We steel ourselves. Take a breath. We know they’ll love it. We know they’ll be fine. We hope. They cling to our skirts, our hands, our hearts. We settle them again. Take our leave again. Decisive now.

This is the time we wish we were homeschoolers. Then there would be none of this.

Perhaps we peek in the window, or listen at the door. Perhaps there are tears. Theirs or ours.

The morning is a held breath. The minutes like hours. We fill them with distractions – at a cafe, the mamas gather and share their nervousness. Clutching phones just in case of a distress call. But silence remains. We don’t know what to do with ourselves, with this new found time and breathing space. what silence the absence of a child creates.

We return to collect our precious charges. In a few weeks we will be rushing to be on time. Today we are early. Mama and dada racing each other to be the first to see the girl, to clutch her to us, to interrogate her teacher.

She runs out. Noticeably more grown up and sure of herself than the little girl we left there this morning. She knows the shape and size of her own courage. She had fun. We exhale together and share her joy.

And we’ll do it all over again tomorrow.

Did your child start school, playschool or kindergarten this week? Or will they be starting this week? How was it for you? And for them? And homeschooling mamas how is it for you at this time of year?

Wanna read more on school?
This was on me making my mind up about school v home school – lots of great responses too!
And this was the very first post on the subject – this time last year when my son started big school.
This was about my son learning to write – and how school helps and hinders – what is writing for really?

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  1. Laura

    This actually is making me tearful, it’s so lovely Lucy! I remember these feelings so well, you’ve captured every one of them so beautifully. Hope M had a wonderful first day. so much love to you x x x

  2. Karien

    How lovely to read this, so well written! I can only wish my eldest was starting school. He is almost four, and very ready to go, most of his friends are… How I sometimes curse this country, the UK, that will make him wait one very long year more. How I sometimes wish to pack up and move him back home where he would be allowed to start school this year. Good for him, my bright, spirited and impatient boy, and some hard needed rest for my health, and to spent quality time with his two younger sisters. We’ll wait…

  3. Dreamingaloudnet

    Thank you both. Karien, I’m the opposite – I am holding off sending mine to school as long as is legally/ socially possible because the early years program in Ireland is so based on reading/ writing and religion – only 1/2 hour physical activity a week and very little creative stuff/ free play/ outside time. I love the Welsh system – 50% of early years learning takes place outside.

  4. Karien

    That’s true, I am not sure if the UK system is that all that great. In the Netherlands they don’t start reading and writing until the third year, when they are over 6, which is apparently better as they are more ready, by the end of the year they have more than caught up with countries that start earlier. Religion they won’t normally teach at all, depending your school. My sister teaches 4/5 year olds, and from what I understand it is all learn through play, creative stuff etc.
    The thing is that he does seem to thrive at pre-school, and less so at home, even though I try to stimulate him as much as I can. So school wise moving back is not such a bad idea, as I prefer the learning style there. We are thinking about moving anyway, even though most options are (much) further afield.

  5. Karien

    Having read a bit more from your other blogs on the subject I can see where you are coming from… I would always choose a local school ,but such a religious school would not be my cup of tea either. Then again nor would home schooling .
    I am a bit naive on the subject anyway, coming from a country with a great selection of excellent schools, from Dalton, Jenaplan and Montessori to really good state schools, all a good choice, and parents biggest problem is usually just that: choosing. My friends there debate which one to choose and think it is hard for them. In the UK it is so different. Here you are lucky to get a half decent school at all. It seems more like a lottery, based on where one can afford a house, than anything else. My friend lives in a small village nearby and did not get in the village school, now has to drive ten miles for one that is not that good. My own town has the proverbial black hole, if you live there you won’t get into any local school either and will be send out of town. It is all extremely daunting, this fighting about schools that in my eye are not even great, and has made us decide not to school our kids in this country…

  6. Karien

    Sorry for spoiling your lovely story with my rambling….

  7. Dreamingaloudnet

    No spoiling done Karien- lovely that you used this space for Dreaming Aloud – I can see you finding your own clarity through the thread and that is wonderful x

  8. Motherfunker

    September is a return to more rhythm routine and new music lessons for the boys… A time of newness and promise, but also quiet dread….shorter days and worsening weather make homeschooling days out that bit harder…but looking forward to observing the changes at our fave nature reserves and wild places…and the peace and quiet that comes of visiting places no longer rammed with tourists etc….! Alf going to hang out at nursery next door with me for a few sessions before I leave him…we shall see how it works out!

  9. Things Hand Made
    Things Hand Made09-02-2011

    Back from a great trip to ireland and just catching up on blogs. Sorry to hear you were unwell and glad you are feeling stronger now. My eldest starts secondary school on tuesday and I am not OK with it! Having the usual end of summer dilemma about putting golden barefeet back into socks and shoes. …. yes, it is a metaphor!

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