My five year old daughter has a July birthday which means she was only just eligible to start school this year.
Without much deliberation my husband and I decided to err on the side of caution and hold her back. A year ago she was a bright, happy and confident child but inflicting her on the local primary school just didn’t feel right. The teachers at daycare had nicknamed her Elizabeth Taylor due to her flamboyant dress sense and penchant for high drama. We doubted her ability to cope with the petty conflicts of the school yard, let alone a uniform devoid of anything pink and sparkly.
More experienced mothers would smile knowingly and tell me that by mid year she’d be “so ready”. You can usually trust a Mum who has “been there and done that” to be 100% right. My eldest is now jumping out of her skin to learn and wants far more stimulation than provide. She’s constantly moaning that she’s bored and asking what exciting activities I’ve got planned for her (because social director is a big part of my job description). Even the red and blue uniform is no longer such a challenging prospect.
When we headed of to our local school’s “transition program” I was more than a little smug. “Just watch my girl shoot the lights out” I thought to myself, “it’s not a question of whether we’re ready for school but whether school is ready for us”. However after two sessions, I’m feeling somewhat humbled. We still have some preparation to do and most of it’s with me.
I’ve got to organise myself to get my daughter at school by the dot of 9.00 every morning fully equipped for the day ahead. This includes providing a nutritious, allergy-free lunch. It must be safely housed in a temperature controlled lunchbox but I must be mindful not to use too much packaging. Apparently going overboard on the plastic cling wrap breaches the school’s commitment to sustainability. It seems that there will be no more leisurely sleep-ins until 7am in our household.
Getting her to school with the right supplies is just the tip of the iceberg. Being a school parent is potentially a full-time job.The idea of dropping kids off and forgetting about them until 3pm is a complete fallacy. I’ve recently learned that Mums and Dads are essential cogs in the school machinery. They are needed for everything from helping out in the classroom, to running the canteen through to maintaining the gardens. That’s just the day-to-day work. Special events like fundraising nights, fetes, concerts and sports days can’t happen without parents pitching in. It looks like I’d better get used to rolling up my sleeves. To think I’d imagined myself spending leisurely days doing housework and tending to my three-year-old daughter.
As for Elizabeth Taylor junior, she’s very excited about the new world that is opening and is feeling very mature indeed. Confidence is not a problem but there’s still one or two issues that we need to work on to make the transition seamless. Firstly we were advised to get the kids used to taking turns and not shouting over the top of others. This is an art that my daughter is yet to master. She has a tendency to shout out whatever is on her mind making a few lessons in “putting up your hand” essential. Also we were told they need to understand that they can’t monopolize the the teacher’s time and attention. This could be more problematic. When it comes to hogging adult attention my daughter can be like Telstra with the NBN. Sure enough, when I left the parents session in the school hall last week I found Liz jnr orbiting one of the teachers like a satellite, chewing her proverbial ear off. The realisation that she’s not the center of everyone’s universe may be learned the hard way.
We’ve got 12 weeks to go until Kindergarten 2013 kicks off. Its remarkable how much progress a young child can make in that time. Unfortunately I’m not so sure that this mother will be able to transition to school readiness by then.
Is your child ready for school? How about you?