Tuesday, March 13, 2012

THE SCHOOL LEARNING CURVE. FOR PARENTS.


We're into week six of my eldest child's first year of school. And what a learning curve it's been.

So far he's learnt that school is every. single. day. And it goes for a loooong time. Each day we must wear a uniform, pack our bags, brush our teeth, and even put a comb through our hair. There's no time for ABC 4 Kids, and we must eat our breakfast quickly. Every day there is something special happening: PMP programs, French, Art, Library, Sport, Life Education, Cooking. But most of all, we have to remember to be on time, keep quiet when sitting on the mat, hold hands when we go anywhere within the school, put our hands up before talking, ask before going to the toilet, learn the name of our Grade 5 buddy, remember to pack library books and readers... oh, and learn how to read and write.

No wonder my little lad is tired by Tuesday.

While I'm not wanting to take away the huge things my five year old has undertaken in the past few weeks, it's no wonder I'm tired by Tuesday.

The amount of mail that comes home in my child's backpack is enormous. The help required is never-ending. Help at the tuck shop? Support the cooking program? Join the school council? Help read in class (after the required three-day literacy and numeracy training)? Photocopy the school newsletter? Support the maths-a-thon? Bring an egg (or two) for the easter raffle? Attend the teacher/parent meet BBQ? Participate in the school working bee?*

Oh my.

Not that I'm complaining. But I confess I'm w-aaay behind the eight-ball. Hang on. I'm not even sure where the eight-ball is.

So far I've missed the most important assembly for the year, crazy hair day (a fundraiser), and The Teddy Bear's Picnic.

I was feeling like a very bad mummy indeed, because I thought I had read all the memos, the newsletters, the school website, and yet I still managed to miss so much.

Until I spoke to another mum. (At the aforementioned assembly which we happened to stumble upon because we were late to school that day.) Her words will be tattooed inside my brain for years to come:

"In my first daughter's first year of school, I almost had a nervous breakdown. There was so much to learn. And that was just me."

You cannot understand the relief I felt after hearing that.

Not that I was expecting to just drop my kids off and have them babysat by teachers who I have an immense new respect for. I want to be involved in my son's education. I want to be part of the school community.

I just didn't know how involved I needed to be.

It's a massive lesson for my son and I. And while my son will adjust in no time, I suspect it might just take me all year to get into the swing of things.

On the up-side, at least I'm good at packing lunches.

How did you survive your eldest child's first year of school? Did you breeze through, or struggle like me?

* I promise, I'm not exaggerating. Not even a little bit. All this - plus the things I missed - in just five weeks of school. And that's just prep. If my son was in Grade 3, there would also be the Stephanie Alexander cooking program, interschool sports, and the chook program. I'm sure I've missed some things seeing my child is actually not in Grade 3. But I'm taking notes for later.