Not the greatest photograph, but above you see the face of a child who was not ready to be a school boy on his first day of school. After the greatest of struggles to even get out of the house (and a great deal of sweating and stressing from the mother ship) I took this picture as a last ditch attempt to join in with the series of portraits swamping my newsfeed lately but frankly, there was no way this was ever going to make the cut and the stance and general attitude you see before you is nothing compared to the emotional storm that was brewing away.
A few weeks ago I was beginning to feel like the proverbial ‘money tree’ – I guess this is something every parent goes through from a pretty early point in their kids’ lives when they begin to demand this that and the other everywhere you go. It used to be a biscuit from the bakery counter in Sainsbogs but JJ has upped the game lately and now he’ll expect me to buy him the most expensive toy we happen to walk past at any given time.
At the same time his behaviour has gone a bit haywire – I’m still trying to figure out whether this is a normal developmental ‘thing’ for a six year old – I get plenty of hits on a quick Google search – or whether this is something very specific to him and our family situation. At any rate the two problems (monetary/material demands and behaviour in general) have collided and, after a heart to heart with my mum, she offered to begin giving him and his little brother an ‘allowance’ of £1 a week – *on condition* that she received a good report on his recent behaviour. The idea is that he will be able to put his own money towards saving for things he really wants rather than expecting us to pay for everything and if he is badly behaved then he may be forced to experience the consequences of ‘negative equity’.
This is it – the home strait, the final few weeks of term in what has been a whole new chapter in my gorgeous 5 year old’s life. A time to evaluate, and look to the future.
Recently JJ received his first ever school report. It has indeed been a year of firsts for him what with his recent sports day (during which he won his running race!) and first after school play & tea dates, but the report is something a bit different. OK so there is only so much to report back to us parents after the speediest 10 months ever. Suffice to say we have no worries about his general learning progress – he’s a typical boy by all accounts, average at reading and writing, slightly above average on the maths front, but it is in the social, emotional and communications skills that he seems to have grown so much. For example, he is noted for having resolved minor disagreements between his friends fairly. Wow. I know this seems like a relatively small thing, but seriously – conflict resolution at such a young age? I’m signing him up for the UN 😉
The other day Reneé of Mummy Tries wrote a post in which she talked about the possibility of taking her daughter out of a formal school setting and home schooling instead. This made me ponder the idea too (in the idlest of ways).
I do worry about the way the government is taking schools and the National Curriculum, over- crowding because of the population explosion and the talk of a lack of pastoral care in favour of results and measurable achievements in some cases. When you factor in a parent’s natural fears about the possibility of bullying/ social pressures then the concept of home schooling definitely takes on a warm fuzzy glow.
Recently I had a bit of a shock. I was engaging in an activity I’ve become accustomed to over the years but suddenly the game has changed, the goalposts have been moved and the stakes have risen.
Let’s start at the beginning. Back in September 2014 my eldest child embarked upon his “big” school life, entering Reception year at our local Primary. I was well aware that this milestone was going to affect all of us as a family, putting time pressures and (soon, I fear) homework and attainment stresses on all of us. One of those time pressures very much includes the strict limitations we now have when it comes to family holidays, and of course I was familiar with the debate which rages on with regards price surges at peak, school holiday, times of year.
‘Lengthen school days and cut holidays, says former Tory Advisor’ The Guardian (online) 29 Jan 2014
OK so for those of you who don’t know the above suggestion was made by someone who no longer works in government and who aired his thoughts on his own blog.
The main thrust of his argument seems to be the desire to woo Tory voters by giving mums who currently stay at home or work part time the opportunity to banish their childcare money worries and launch themselves back into full time work whilst their kids receive free childcare sorry, ‘better education’.
I expect that if your child is reaching school age and you happen to live in a nice little village somewhere with a lovely little village school then you are probably not too worried about this application process that we are all expected to go through sooner or later. However, if, like me, you live in a relatively large town in the South East of England with at least 7 or 8 different schools to choose between then its a bit more complicated.
JJ just missed the admissions round this year, being an early-September baby, so some of his (slightly) older friends have started school recently and therefore I already have some insight into several of the local offerings. There is no substitute for doing your own research and getting your own feel for the likely candidates though, so I’ve thrown myself into the round of open days currently available. I had three specific candidates with one being the likely favourite in my mind (being as it is, our catchment school), however I now find myself in a bit of a dilemma. Each school has its pros and cons but is there really any substitute for that instinctive feeling you get when you first walk into a building? Its a bit like house-hunting and knowing instantly that you love or hate a place when you walk in through the door – I could live here – I want to live here! I wanted to love our catchment school – I certainly haven’t heard any bad reports – but it seems almost too big somehow. Its true that it has one of the largest intakes of pupils of any school in the area – 90 pupils for Reception year – and so it seems to lack that intimate feel of a smaller school.