Tomorrow at midday our school year comes to an end. For our little family it’s been our first real school year, as Ciarán only started “big school” in September.
This day last year we went to his playschool graduation, the small girl only three weeks old, and we wondered how he would fare with all the big kids, my worrying heightened by my lack of sleep and fussing over a newborn.
Now, a whole academic year later it’s hard to remember the (not very) small boy that was sad to leave his lovely playschool and worried about getting to know new people and not getting enough time to play with toys in big school.
After getting settled in to school he now loves it, adores his teacher and is upset if there’s no school. We recently took him out of school for one day for a day out to celebrate his sister’s first birthday, his first day missing school all year and he had to be cajoled into not putting on his uniform. (When I say cajoled, he made his feelings heard and insisted that he needed to go to school as Wednesday was art day, and we were tempted to send him after all).
School has changed us all. He has grown up, gotten so much more streetwise and learned so much, both from his teachers and his peers.
We’ve joined the houses who start wondering where school uniforms are at 9pm on Sunday nights and lunchboxes with apple butts are discovered hours too late.
We sit at the table to do homework, find soggy notes in the bottom of bags and always forget to send in the one euro for no uniform day or cake sale day. We’re still learning.
Since reading and writing skills have been acquired by a junior family member we find all sorts of interesting notes around the house.
Like this one (all sounded out, not spelled for him)
We overhear Cathal asking Ciarán to read things for him like signs and labels. It’s as if his brother has a magic power. Reading has unlocked a whole new world for Ciarán, but in a sense it his made our lives a little more complicated as he can read our text messages and understand our s-p-e-l-l-e-d out words. Sometimes this has funny consequences, as my friend learned when she spelled a bold word in front of him.
Being part of the school community has widened our circles, we feel more integrated in the locality, and so welcome at the school.
It’s also brought new outside influences to our house, he comes home excited full of stories about what songs his friends have been teaching him and recreating “moves” and dances that he sees “the big girls” doing at breaktime. He asked us who we were supporting in the World Cup before we had mentioned it at home, and had his own views on who was the right team to choose.
We’ve learned about the phonics way of teaching reading, and have learned new names for letters like “Buh” and “Puh”. We all can sing about “Vic’s Van” and can make S sounds like the snake who’s in the grass. Phonics is AMAZING, they learn so quickly. This is a passage from a reader for a five year old, I was shocked at the level they’ve reached already.
We’ve had our first parent teacher meeting, our first school report. I don’t see them as “his”, they are very much “ours”. Independent feedback from someone who spends so much time with our boy. I completely underestimated how nervous I would feel on the day of the first parent teacher meeting though, I was terrified there would be some awful surprise, but thankfully that wasn’t the case.
We have a new school prayer, we’ve learned about the safest way to cross the road and we’re regularly told that “teacher doesn’t do it that way”.
School has taught us all so much in a short year. We’re on the journey now, next stop Senior Infants, but first, it’s the summer holidays, there are adventures to be had and icecreams to be eaten. Hooray for Summer.