I walked into the school playground and looked around me a little anxiously...
I smiled when I saw Jane, a familiar face and the mother of one of my daughter’s classmates.
“You seem to know what you’re doing,” I said to her.
She smiled, looked a little blank and shrugged her shoulders. “Not really sure. I think this is where we wait now.”
“Well, at least you’ve got some idea. I’m clueless.” I replied.
It was pick up time on my daughter’s first day in year one. That morning I had dropped her off into her new classroom. She had skipped in, happy and excited to be back at school. I had watched her from the door as she made her way to a table full of her friends who welcomed her warmly.
On the way home with her I asked her about her first day in school proper.
“How was it? Did you enjoy yourself?”
“It was brilliant daddy!” she enthused.
“And how is your new teacher? Is Mrs Smith as good as Mrs Scott?” Mrs Scott was her old, reception teacher who had been adored by parents and children alike.
“Even better!” came the reply. “Mrs Smith is the best!”
I raised my eyebrows: praise indeed.
“What did you do today?” I continued my questions.
“Well, today we mostly played. We were getting used to our new class room. But Mrs Smith told us that year one isn’t like reception – we’re going to have to work very hard.” She paused for a moment, internalising the gravity of what she had just said. “She told us that twice.”
On the Friday of the first week, my wife and I both went to drop Meri off at school. It was the first time Clare had made the journey to the new classroom. On the way in I showed her the circle in the playground where we collected the children from.
“I don’t like it.” Clare said. “I liked it round there.” She pointed, indicating the reception playground.
We took Meri to her classroom and as she went in, we were shepherded out of the building by a business-like teaching assistant, keen to get nervous parents out of the way so they could get on with teaching their precious little ones the three Rs.
On the way home we looked at the information sheet we had been given.
“Says here that they’re going to be sending all of the gym kits home because not all of them were properly labelled. Also says we’ve got to put Meri’s hair in a bunch on gym days- it’s school policy.” A grimace from Clare.
“Hmm, it also says she’s going to get reading books three times a week. We have to write in the home-school book that we’ve read them with her – otherwise she won’t get house points.” Another pause.
“Is this school or is it a concentration camp?” Clare furrowed her brow.
“Meri seems to like it.” I said.
“Well I don’t!” responded my wife. She softened a little. “She’s growing up too quickly…”