We’re now halfway through the school year and, for my son, this has been a year of big change. The transition from the school nursery to reception class was pretty straight forward, since the reception year is all about learning through play. However, it’s a big step up into Year One, where learning is a lot more formalised. It has been another steep learning curve for both my son and myself.
1. Independence Is Expected, But Somewhat Lacking
Year One pupils are expected to be a lot more independent. Parents don’t go into the classroom at drop-off or pick-up, and the children are expected to bring home reading books, etc. without prompting.
It sounds great in principle. But the reality is that I now spend about ten-minutes at the end of each school day sending my child back into the classroom to collect the various items he has forgotten. Occasionally, this also involves returning items that he has absent-mindedly picked up, but aren’t actually his. The time he came out with a pink sparkly unicorn themed water bottle in place of his own Harry Potter themed bottle was particularly memorable.
2. They Don’t Teach Them Like They Used To
My six year old asked why a word was used in a certain way and I began to try and explain, in very simple terms, about what nouns, verbs, and adjectives were, only to be met with the retort “Yes, Mummy, I know exactly what an adjective is.” Meanwhile, a friend of mine reported on how her Year One child explained how he had spent the day writing, in his own words, “a non-chronological report.” We had to Google what that meant.
I don’t remember much about when I was in Year One, but looking at my old school books that were stored by my parents it seems I spent most of it covered in poster paint, with the occasional written sentence about what I got up to at the weekend. Today, along with learning about grammatical terms, my son spends his days studying basic computer programming concepts and how to use an interactive white board. I’d always fancied myself as one of those cool parents who could keep up with modern trends and be able to relate to whatever it was that he would do in school. We’re only at the start of his school career and I’m already feeling like a fuddy-duddy.
3. Year One Is Exhausting
I thought my son was tired in reception but Year One is a whole other level of tiredness. Along with all the extra learning they are doing in school hours, Year One is when many schools start to offer a wide programme of after-school clubs. Suddenly, my son has gone from just having weekly swimming lessons to having something on after school every day. He has a better social life than me. He also has a lot more homework to do, and there’s no let up to the class birthday parties. I now completely understand why my own parents used to complain about being nothing but a glorified taxi service.
4. Birthday Parties Have Improved A Lot
In nursery and reception class, most birthday parties involved sitting in a grotty soft play centre, drinking horrible coffee, whilst I kept one eye on my child to make sure he didn’t bowl anyone over. Whole weekends were lost to these parties that were inevitably scheduled in the middle of the day, meaning that there was little time to do anything before or after the party. However, in Year One, parents are much more aware of the issues with scheduling and were a bit more thoughtful. Not only that, but after the first couple of parties, it suddenly became acceptable to drop your child off, and leave them at the party.
I remember vividly the first time it happened. I had left my partner at home with child number two to take child number one to some sort of football themed party at a leisure centre. We arrived and the instructor took the children into the hall. The birthday boy’s parent turned to the rest of us and said, “You can pick them up in an hour and a half’s time.” We all stared with incredulity. We wondered if this was really happening. It was the Queen Bee who made her first move (you know the type) and she headed to the door. The rest of us followed meekly, not really sure what to do with ourselves.
I briefly considered returning home to my partner and other child. But then it occurred me that I wasn’t expected back there, and I had the opportunity to grasp something that so many parents of young children desire but few attain; an hour of childfree time to stroll around the shops. I even went to a café and managed to drink a cup of decent coffee before it went cold and without having to tell anyone off for not sitting down. It was pure bliss.
5. There Are Boyfriends & Girlfriends
If you’re anything like me then you probably think that a six year old is way, way, too young to have a girlfriend or boyfriend. But unlike in nursery and reception where the kids largely played with whoever was next to them at the time, in Year One, friendships become a lot more fixed, and generally friendship groups are segregated by sex. As a result, the boys and girls are acutely more aware of their differences, and for some children, these differences are intriguing.
Of course, no one is suggesting that a couple of six year olds are snogging behind the bike sheds at break time, but it’s still a shock to the system when your son’s friend casually mentions on a playdate about how your son has a girlfriend. He’s very young, but I don’t think I need to worry about “THE TALK” just yet. From what I can infer from my son’s friend, it seems that the entire relationship is based on the fact that said girlfriend told her friends that my son was her boyfriend and that was that. I’m not sure he’s actually even spoken to the girl that much.