Can you believe it’s Freya’s last day of nursery today? I can’t. How can a whole academic year have passed in what seems like little more than the blink of an eye?
Her first tentative steps into education couldn’t have gone any better – for both of us, actually. None of my fears about her starting nursery – especially the one that kept me awake for months where she clung to my leg in tears and begged me not to leave her – came true. In fact, the only time she really cried is when she couldn’t go to school when she was poorly.
It was big change at first and for a while she was often a bit overwhelmed when she came home but she always wanted to go back.
We did quite a lot of work to build it up as The Most Exciting Thing Ever pre-September but I know a big reason she settled so well is because of her amazing teachers and the brilliant, fun activities they plan for them. It’s no wonder she looks forward to going – I quite fancy it myself some days.
While I only have to look at her to see how much she has grown physically, the other ways she has changed shine bright too. Whereas, before, I knew everything she knew, it was a bit startling when she first started coming out with new things; singing different songs, using different words, cutting out with scissors and, most recently, writing and drawing things that actually resemble letters or aren’t just squiggles on the page.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while it will come as no surprise that I shed a tear the first time, with a wobbly hand, she copied her name…and when she wrote an F on her own or drew a face that actually looked like a face (well, more like a cat). Goodness knows what I will be like when she starts reading.
Where she has really blossomed has been socially. She’s always loved other children but being able to make her own friends, without me there to prompt or negotiate, seems to have been an experience she has thoroughly enjoyed. Some mornings you would think they had been apart for months, the fuss they make of one another, when we only said goodbye the previous lunchtime.
She’s also brought me some new friendships.
I don’t mind telling you that, after reading many stories about the politics of the school gate, I had sort of braced myself on that first day, warding off feeling snubbed or lonely or, worst case scenario, bullied, with the sentence: “I’ve got plenty of friends. I don’t need any more.”
However, I must have looked a bit lost as Freya happily ran into her classroom with little more than a wave. One of the other mum’s very kindly took me under her wing (she’d already been through it with her older child so knew the drill). She told me how much her daughter enjoyed nursery, how great the teachers were and the fun she would have. I’m not sure I would have left the playground that day without her filling me with confidence that I was doing the right thing. I can’t tell you how grateful I was for her support, especially that first term when it was all so new. I know she doesn’t think she did anything special but it made such a difference to me.
As the weeks went on I got to know more parents and they have all been lovely. We often walk to and from school together and we’ve since been invited on playdates, to the cinema, to birthday parties and Freya’s had some fun afternoons splashing about in a paddling pool in the sunshine with her friends.
So, thank you to the teachers, the parents and the children for making our first year so enjoyable.
Some of the old fears remain but I’m almost looking forward to reception in September – and I know Freya is because she’s already asked me three times when she can go back to school (and she only finishes today).