Andrew’s First Year at School – Lessons Learnt

Just found this post sitting in my drafts waiting for me to publish. It was actually written at the end of January! Not sure why I didn’t just publish it at the time but I think I was meaning to go back and edit my spelling mistakes. Anyway, more updates to follow shortly.

As I write this there are only a few days until Andrew starts his second year at school – Year 1. When I look back at his Prep year I am amazed that it is all over already. It seemed to go so quickly! I must say that I am extremely proud of how well he did and his report card at the end of the year justifies my pride and his teacher confirms he did great. Having sent him to daycare from the age of one, I believed that he would adjust to school fairly easily and fit in well, even though he didn’t know anyone going to that school. On the whole this assumption was correct but as I should have expected there were a few surprises along the way. After a very short time we realised that Andrew had an excellent teacher. She was just what Andrew needed – firm but caring. It was at our first proper student/teacher interview in May that we first got the sense that something wasn’t quite going to plan. His teacher brought it to our attention that Andrew was having real difficulty concentrating in class. She had mentioned it to me in the past when I was dropping Andrew off or picking him up but I had dismissed it a little thinking it was quite normal and that I guess a lot of kids were the same. At the interview I actually realised that she thought it was a little more serious than that. She expressed concern that he may have been having petit mal seizures. These are a medical condition, also call absence seizures, which involves a brief, sudden lapse of consciousness. The teacher was having so much trouble getting Andrew’s attention that she thought he was totally out of it! She asked whether we’d noticed anything like this happening at home and we agreed it was difficult to get his attention sometimes but hadn’t noticed anything like a seizure. In any case we agreed to see a paediatrician and get an EEG (brain wave scan) and see if there was anything medical wrong with him. There wasn’t. The Paed said that he was being a normal 5 year old boy. He said he’d be happy to see him again towards the end of the year if we wanted but as far as he was concerned there wasn’t anything to worry about at this stage. He said he’d likely grow out of the behaviour and by the end of the year his teacher was also satisfied that it had improved. The way I’ve written this it sounds like Andrew’s teacher over-reacted but it wasn’t like that at all. She just wanted to make sure we knew what was happening and to give us an option to look in to it if we wanted. We were not forced to see a paed, we just chose to follow up on it at the time instead of waiting to see if got worse or affected his schooling any more.

One of the lovely things for me about Andrew’s first year at school was that I made some really lovely friends with the other Mums from his class. Some of them work and some are stay at home Mums but getting together for a coffee with them on occasion has been just great. I also got to get to know the kids a bit better in last term when I went in and helped out with group work in class on Mondays. I also found this to be such a great way to gauge how well Andrew was doing compared to his peers. In general he’s probably about average in most areas and maybe a little above in a few things. His language and communication skills I think have always been one of his strong points and he continues to do well with this. He also loves anything to do with numbers and loves counting and doing sums aloud when he’s in the car.

At the start of the school year I worked Mon-Thurs from 9am-2pm so that I could drop the boys off to school and daycare and pick them both up in the afternoon. Andrew’s school is about a minute around the corner from our house and Nick’s daycare was about 15 minutes away but on my way to work. That meant that I would drop Andrew then Nick and reverse on the way back. Nick adjusted at the beginning of Andrew starting school really well. He loved walking up to school with Andrew and waiting outside his classroom with the other kids to be let in and was fine at saying goodbye to Andrew and going to daycare. And it was the same at the end of the day when it was time to go and pick Andrew up. So I was a little surprised when about second term Nick started kicking up a huge fuss at the end of every day when it was time to walk up to school from the car to get Andrew. He starting having the biggest tantrums and refusing to get out of the car. He would yell and scream and I couldn’t work out why this was happening. Of course being 3 years old he couldn’t explain it to me either. I was always picking him up just after he’d woken up from his nap so I didn’t really think it was because he was tired but it really started to frustrate me and I wasn’t sure how to fix it. After much thought and consideration we ended up moving him to another daycare centre closer to home so I could drop him off first and pick him up last. This wasn’t the only reason for doing this but it certainly made everyone’s life a bit better. Then in August was another big change – I went from working 4 short days to 3 longer days. This meant that Nick was in daycare one less day a week and Andrew went to After School Hours Care for 2 days a week and Mum picked him up on Thursdays. This has worked much better for everyone. At work I was finding it difficult to get anything completed before 2pm and it saved us some money by having Nick in care one less day a week. That whole work/life balance really seems to have it’s equilibrium right now.