Starting ‘big school’ is an exciting an emotional event. Everything is new, strange and little scary but most are ready for it and part easily from their parents because the anticipated fun of it overrides all fears. But for some separation anxiety is very real and for the first few days I had one or two who clung to Mom or Dad and shed a few tears. Once they were in the classroom though, there were smiles and no more worries till the end of the day. It is hard for a parent to leave a fretful child and hard for a child to stop herself from shedding those nervous tears when everything is so new and overwhelming. One of my tearful ones clung to Dad and the poor man looked at me and said “What should I do?” I took her gently from him and said, “Say goodbye, Dad.” She cried – but allowed him to slip quickly away. “I miss my Daddy,” she wailed. “I know,” I said. I clung to my daddy when I was in Grade 1 too. But I got over it and look – now I’m a teacher – so school wasn’t so bad.” “Did you really?” she asked – “Yes,” I said, “And do you know what – you will see your daddy later on. But I won’t be seeing my daddy any time soon because I don’t have my daddy anymore. And I still miss him – but its okay – I have to think of other things to make me happy. We’re going to have a lovely day at school today so dry those eyes and later on you can tell Daddy all about it.” She looked a bit surprised but stopped crying! There were no tears the next day.
In the three and a half weeks we have been at school we have achieved so much. The parents came to a new parents cocktail party and then a ‘back to school’ night to meet the teacher and find out what was in store for the next near. I had an almost full house/classroom with only 3 parents unable to attend. We started the meeting by saying the alphabet to the Thrass rap and that got everyone laughing and loosening up. I gave my little speech and then opened the floor to questions of which there were plenty. What a great group of parents I seem to have. I hope I answered their questions adequately and set their minds to rest that their daughters were in good hands.
We have a room parent program at my school where parents volunteer to give an hour or so of their time each week to help the teacher with all sorts of odd things from trimming worksheets, cutting out homework reading words, to listening to reading and helping to various individual activities. I have been overwhelmed with an excellent response and have no fewer than 15 volunteers. Other teachers have not been as lucky.
We had our first assembly on Tuesday. By the time a child starts school she is expected to be able to sit still for forty-five minutes and listen attentively to all that is going on. Of course there are times that she is able to stand up and sing and move but no disruptive behaviour will be tolerated. I was extremely proud of my girls as except for gentle reminders to one or two they managed to get through it with exemplary behaviour.
The principals message was profound. He showed a tear-jerking video of an Olympic athlete who ‘finished the race’ in spite of incurring an injury. The purpose of this was to encourage the children to finish what they start no matter what. He also played a recording of one of Churchill’s famous speeches in which he exhorts the British to “Never Give Up.” Later in the week one of my girls was upset that she had mistake and I said, “That’s okay – just carry on – remember what Mr K said in assembly – Never Give Up!”
“Mr K didn’t say that,” piped up one smart kid, “that was the man in the hat!” She then proceeded to mimic him perfectly – “Never give up – never, never, never!”
And I don’t think she will!