So, we’ve survived a week with Hattie and Joe at school! I thought I’d write a very quick update.
You could all tell from my post about the various pieces of advice I’d gleaned that I had no small degree of apprehension about the kids starting school. I was concerned that Joe would be a total refusenik and refuse to attend, and that Hattie wouldn’t want to try to do anything, and that they’d both be so tired every day that it would be like feeding time at the zoo every evening.
I’m hugely relieved to report that virtually none of my worst fears have been realised! Hattie and Joe have trotted off to school fairly happily every morning, and we’ve only had one day where Joe complained about the hideous unfairness of being forced into shorts and a shirt on a daily basis. I followed all of the advice regarding the importance of a good morning routine, which has really helped to keep things calm. I’ve also been waking up at 5.30 each morning for a bit of yoga in my living room before anybody else gets out of bed, and that’s been a lovely way to start my day, and has ensured that I’ve got plenty of time to make lunches and keep things organised.
I also followed the advice about not making a huge fuss regarding drop-offs, and that’s worked really well. Each day, we help the kids to hang up their bags and unpack their water bottles and ‘brain food’, and then we give them a kiss goodbye and skip merrily on our way. And no, there have been no tears from me in the car on the drive home! I know that I’m really lucky – they’re so clearly OK at school that there isn’t any cause for me to be worried about them each morning.
I’ve remembered to take a snack to the afternoon pick-up, and I think that’s helped to keep blood sugar stable on the short drive home (it’s been raining incessantly here, so we haven’t attempted to walk to or from school yet). And we’ve had afternoon tea as soon as we’re back in the house. However, I haven’t done a great job of giving them dinner early, despite my best efforts. When they get home each day Hattie and Joe aren’t particularly deranged or unreasonable, but after spending several hours in a classroom – albeit it a lovely, casual one, full of toys – they are largely disinclined to be ‘organised’: instead, they really want to potter around, playing and drawing. We’ve largely just gone with it, but today things were a bit less than ideal – they wanted to watch a film with Rieke, their lovely new au pair, but it kept getting paused for various reasons (primarily because they wanted to show her lots of their toys), and this pushed back dinner to 5.30pm, rather than the 5pm timing I was intending.
The knock-on effect of this dinner delay was less time for after-dinner reading. Yes, Hattie and Joe already have homework! How crazy is that? It’s hardly arduous: some very gentle reading practice – recognising key words – and a letter each day to practise writing. Joe is happy to get stuck in, but Hattie greatly prefers reading to writing. In fact, it actually ended in tears this evening, when I tried to encourage her to write a couple of letters. I’m going to speak to her teacher about it tomorrow and see if she has any suggestions. I think Hattie’s innate dislike of not knowing how to do things instantly is probably the main issue, but hopefully the teacher will have some good strategies to help.
I also think we’re going to veto the watching of films after school, and generally put in place a bit of a set routine for that time of the day, so the kids know exactly what to expect. I figure this will also make life easier for Rieke as she settles in, but the kids already seem to be very comfortable around her, and she’s great, so I have no concerns there.
That was a longer update than I’d anticipated, but long story short: Hattie and Joe have settled into their first five days of school surprisingly well! However, they are pretty tired, so I think we might have a day off this Friday, just for a bit of rest and relaxation, followed by the day off next Friday as well, for their oldest cousin’s wedding. This will give them three short weeks, which should help with the transition into school life. And I’m sure none of you will be surprised to learn that the two of them seem to take a great deal of comfort from the fact that they’ve got each other in the classroom!