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Primary School for a Four Year Old

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Children & Family Discussion - What is primary school like for a four year old?

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      22.10.2011 09:39
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      A huge step which needs to be approached with care

      My son started school in September this year. He was at nursery for fifteen hours a week so transferring to full time school was a big step. Since he was a toddler I have taken him to his primary school for Christmas fairs to familiarise himself with the school. I never told him it was his school but every time we passed the school he would point and say that is my school. I did have a small concern that he would be disappointed that there wasn't tombola and face painting daily at school.

      Choosing a school for your child is a very personal decision. I wanted a combination of two things a local school where he could be happy and with good school results but didn't need it to be the top school in the area. My son's catchment school had a very good reputation and even adults that had gone to school there talked fondly of it. I also wanted my son in a small school and this is influenced by my own schooling that my middle school was the smallest school and I was happiest there and felt I belonged. I also had quite a few friends whose children were in reception the year before so was able to ask their opinion and other questions I needed. You can always arrange a visit to potential schools to allow you decide which school is right for your little one. We followed the application process and were delighted when he got accepted in the school of my choice.

      Before he started we had an open morning where we got the opportunity to see the school and meet the teachers. His first visit was very overwhelming for him. The reception class was working but there were the parents from the current reception class and new parents and children. My son was quite shy and started enjoying himself writing on the media board when the teacher asked him not to bang with the pen in a very polite none threatening way my son was devastated ran off and would not speak to her on the evening open evening and the Christmas fair.

      As parents we had a meeting which explained the school system, what would happen and what was the expected of him. This was a very informative meeting which was very exciting at the same time. It made is seemed more real that my baby boy was starting school. I returned home with a book bag for his future homework and a sweatshirt with the school emblem to a very excited child.

      Our next visit to the school was for an induction afternoon. He looked very smart in his uniform and was very excited and ran most of the way to school and arrived with a red, sweaty face. This enthusiasm lasted until it was time to leave me. I left him crying out for mummy and left him with us both sobbing, while I sat at my friend's clock watching till I could go and collect him. My son after spending ten minutes lying on the floor refusing to move actually enjoyed himself and even spoke to his new teacher so a huge success. He had a further induction afternoon the following day and this time he walked in nibbling on his nails so despite not running into school his confidence had soared.

      Due to a family situation the school needed to be aware of I myself had to have a meeting with the head teacher. Despite been the parent I still found it pretty daunting going into her office. However she was very knowledgeable and I found her approach to our situation very professional and supportive. This is the sort of approach you do need as a parent when leaving your child in the care of someone else for long periods of time.

      This was the end of induction we simply had to sit back and enjoy the summer break and a spent many a happy evening sewing name tags into his clothes. Turning up his trousers when his legs hadn't grown to the extraordinary length that Asda thought was the appropriate leg length for children as well as Giants.

      He woke up very exciting and told me despite been only four and a half he could walk to school on his own but as a responsible parent I walked him to school and gave him a kiss and a cuddle before he was escorted into school. I left him on his first day and watched him wonder into school. While I spent the day feeling like a lost soul and was the first parent at the gate waiting to be let through to collect my schoolboy. I was very excited to know what he had done on his first day but his response was he had done nothing and couldn't even remember what he had had for dinner and his only reference to the day was that he had to wait a long time for me to come and fetch him .His teacher was far more reassuring his day had gone well.

      From a personal level I found it difficult adapting to been given less information about my son's day. I am left to rely on him to tell me what he has had for dinner and what he has done at school. As the days at school progressed I was learning more and more about his day at school. I was pre warned by just about everyone how tired my son would be and while other children lay on the sofa exhausted from school my son was busy spinning around the lounge.

      During the second week he his head was bursting full of facts and would wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me about something that had happened at school and while I had no interest at 2.30 am about something that had happened in a film he had watched at Lunchtime I did understand that he had so much new information in his head it was hard to sleep. He was waking at 5 am despite been tired the minute he woke he was wide awake and busy thinking about school. He seemed to love school his teacher and was making friends.

      A week later he bought home his first reading book. Unlike when I was at school the first books have no words but pictures that tell a story. The idea is that the child learns to tell the story so they are able to connect the words and pictures together when they progress to the next level. I was especially proud that my son and another girl were the first to get their books and while I do not spend my time comparing my son to other children I did realise that there is a bit of a competitive parent in me. As a parent we were all invited to a meeting to discuss teaching our children to read. I would advise any parent who is invited to one of these meetings to attend. It taught me a lot but also gave me a pat on the back for what I was doing right. We have worked on reading each night. We have worked out a way that works for my son. He has to race through the story the first time so he can find out what happens but he also reads it at bedtime. I read him a story and he reads me his. As it is bedtime he will take his time and talk about the book in great detail partly to delay bedtime but he will also put the effort in. Other parents whose children are tired after school have found that reading homework is best done in a morning. My son was also the first to get a book with words in the class. These achievements have helped boost his confidence

      He was off sick with tonsillitis after a couple of weeks at school and he actually cried when I told him he wasn't going to school despite been very ill at the time he still didn't want to miss school. He did though the following week attend his first school disco which he thoroughly enjoyed which I do think help to cement friendships. I was a little worried as he doesn't like loud music and the teachers would not be there but he did know three of the parents who were supervising so he did have appoint for reassurance. These events are run by parent volunteers but they must have a CRB check. I have sent off for mine but it has not been processed yet so I had to wait for my son in the local pub.

      I have this week attended open evening when I get to look at his work and talk to his teacher about his progress. I was very impressed with all his work that he had done and the positive comments on his work. His teacher has said he is a superstar and has no concerns about him. He was very proud to show me his work and explained all that he had created. He hasn't got a lot of written work but this is due to the fact that a lot of the learning is done through play.

      Today when I collected him from school he had the school trophy for child of the week. I was so proud when he explained to me how he had to stand up in front of the whole school to get his trophy and hold it up while everyone clapped. This is an amazing transformation from the little boy who refused to move out of the cloakroom a few months ago.

      My advice to anyone whose child is due to start school is don't over talk school they will find out what school is about when they get there but they do need to be prepared for the changes. Your child will change so much but you need to take their lead in what they need as they all adapt in different ways and at different speeds. Always be positive and soon your little one will be loving school. As a parent if you have any concerns or questions then speak to the teachers I have found them helpful and reassuring. This is a monumental change in your Childs life and never underestimate how much they are going through but watch them blossom.

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      • More +
        17.10.2011 20:45
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        It has to be done

        Can you remember your first day at school?
        I can't but I can remember both my girls first day.

        My eldest had attended the school nursery and had a little time at the school to get her used to it. She had even had her dinner in the canteen a couple of times before starting as the teachers thought this was the scariest thing for them as it was so loud. She also attended a morning a week for 2 weeks and then an afternoon for 2 weeks.

        My youngest attended a nursery in the school grounds that had good links with the school but wasn't part of the school. She often attended assemblies there as the teachers had children at the school so when their childs class were doing an assembly they were allowed to take all the nursery children so they could see it.
        This was a good thing as it got her used to the school and seeing the head etc. She also attended for a couple of hours one afternoon a week for about 4 weeks to get them used to things.

        All this helped my children get ready for school. Also I talked to them about it as I don't believe in leaving children in the dark.
        Both were ready for school and looking forward to it when they started.

        My eldest had had a more structured learning in nursery as it was attached to the school and could already read and write every letter before she started school.
        My youngest was not so fortunate to have this but it was still a good nursery that taught them about different things. (Moving to where I live now I had to learn that teaching isn't all about reading writing etc which I had been used to.) although she has been one of the first to get a reading book and knows all her letters. She can even do simple sums.

        Starting school is a big thing both for parents and children but as a parent you should prepare your child for school. Attend any meetings they have and explain what will happen.Allow your child to attend any 'taster' half days that most schools have. This helps them get to know the staff and understand what will happen.
        All this will make the experience of primary school be more pleasant.
        There are a couple of children at my daughters school that never attended the afternoon 'taster' sessions and they are still crying in a morning which most children think is babyish as they are all grown up now they are at school.
        This shows that it isn't fair on the child.

        For a four year old primary school is exciting and scary. Exciting because they want to learn and grow. If they understand and have been spoken to they are looking forward to making new friends and learning lots. My youngest couldn't wait to learn to read. Of course she can read now after all she has had some reading books!

        Scarey because it is the unknown and they find it so much bigger than nursery.
        My youngest has only attended a small school (about 250) but it is so big to her.
        Although they might be excited when they start they will still get butterflies in their tummy as they will be nervous.

        As tiime goes on they will hopefully gain confidance as they get to know their way round the school and the routines that they have.

        School will become if not straight away, hopefully soon somewhere where they feel safe and look forward to attending and meeting up with friends.

        My daughter is quite sociable and mixes but has a best friend that says oh be blahs friends then and goes in a sulk when she is friendly with others.
        This is not a good thing for my daughter but hopefully she learns to deal with it by telling her best friend they can all be friends. This morning she was playing with a little girl and this evening she told me she didn't tell her best friend she had played with her or she would have gone in a sulk.
        Not good but I have had a chat and explained some people feel insecure etc (not using them words).

        So as you see school for a four year old is very complicated and they have lots to learn.

        I have asked both my children about starting school especially my four year old to how she feels when she started and now. Their answers and what they have told me is what I have based this review on.

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