The (Reception) year that was

It’s the last week of the eldest boy’s first year at school, and it has been the biggest (and probably best) year of his little life so far. If you read my last post about school, you’ll know that I have found the rather frenetic pace of school life challenging to say the least. This term alone there’s been bring a bottle day, bring a jazzy jar day, the school disco, sports day, the summer fair, collections and parties for the soon-to-be-retiring Headteacher, a cake bake and more. With at least one event a week to keep up with as well as the logistics of getting to and from school, Reception has been more of a struggle than I anticipated.

My boy, however, has sailed through and absolutely loved it.

Just over 2 years ago, his nursery told me they were concerned about how quiet he was. I had no worries of my own about my little boy – yes he was very shy, he had never been immediately outgoing around other children, but at home he chatted away non-stop, was affectionate and had adjusted very well to the arrival of his little brothers. But my worry was this – he was due to start school just over a year later and, as an August boy, would be one of the babies of the class. If nursery thought he was ‘behind’, how was he going to cope with the jump up to school?

I needn’t have worried. From day 1, my little boy has skipped happily into school, settling into his new environment and soaking up absolutely everything; proving what I had often suspected – that targets and tick-boxes for pre-schoolers do very little apart from cause parents to worry. Not only did he throw himself into his new routine with huge enthusiasm, but rather impressively he now has an excellent grasp of how to run a successful infant school and has set up his own version at home, with two particularly disruptive pupils. As well as introducing his little brothers to Phonics and Literacy, he is also doing an effective job of running the administrative side of things: collecting up lunch choices, reporting absences to the school office and arranging last minute supply teachers.

The strides he has taken in his learning have been staggering. He has gone from struggling to hold a pencil properly to writing whole paragraphs; from sounding out words to being able to read most of the books on his bookshelf. School seems to have opened his eyes to a whole world of learning – the Ice Age, where egrets can be found, the diet of piranhas; his thirst for knowledge can be exhausting, particularly as the topics that interest him most are those about which I know virtually nothing.

And who’d have thought there was so much joy to be had from a school menu? For the last few months, the soundtrack to Herts menumy life has been the 4 year old reading out Hertfordshire Catering’s menu choices time and time again. Not at all distracted by his brothers climbing up bookcases and flinging themselves off sofas, he continues undeterred: ‘Southern style Quorn burger with diced potatoes, ribbon vegetable chow mein, home-style lasagne with side salad…..’. Even the 2 year olds are now familiar with the three week rotating menu.

He has now moved onto creating his own menus, which yesterday I found covering every available surface so that our living room resembled an extremely colourful version of Hertfordshire Catering’s Head Office.

Aside from his obsession with the school menu, what has struck me the most has been his increased confidence. I doubt he will ever be the most outgoing child in the class; but rather than sticking to my side at birthday parties as used to, he now runs off without hesitation to join in with all the games. Almost as much a milestone for me as him starting school was dropping him off for his first disco – yes really, a disco for 4-6 year olds. I watched my little boy as he ran down the corridor to the hall, and he didn’t look back once. I felt the tears come but quickly pulled myself together, realising that it was quite ridiculous to be crying at the doors of a school disco.

My little boy is not the only one to have loved this year. It’s true, jazzy jars are not my strong point, and I definitely lack patience when faced with three tired boys to walk home at the end of a school day; but actually, I love school too. We moved here six years ago, but it has only been this year that I have really started to feel a part of the community. It has been a year of new friendships, of looking forward to school gate catch ups with other mums as 2 year olds (usually mine) throw tantrums over dropped gingerbread men, and of realising that I am surrounded by a wonderful group of supportive parents, many of whom have helped me pull myself together outside the school gates as I’ve made it quite evident that I have more children than I can competently handle.

So School, whilst I will enjoy my 6 weeks without any jars to fill, costumes to create or slips to return, I will miss you over the holidays. I’ll miss catch ups with friends at the gates and I’ll miss chasing twins around the playground; but most of all I’m sad that what has been a wonderful year for my little boy is almost over.

Thankfully, though, the at-home version of school is sure to be in full-swing over the holidays, complete with the full range of Hertfordshire Catering’s lunch choices.

school run

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