Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Imagine My Surprise

Imagine my surprise when  PJ came running out of the classroom at the end of her first week in big school ( Reception class) with a huge gold sticker on her chest and carrying a somewhat chewed but still intact, certificate!
She had been awarded this star award - for trying so hard at listening!
A Super Star indeed!
Very proud Mummy and delighted!
Well done PJ
( I really wasn't expecting it - especially not in her first full week of full days!)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Messy Snow Joke Summer Fun

We have been continuing to have fun and develop PJ's sensory needs in our play activities - the latest fun we have had has been with shaving foam - ideas for summer snow can be found at growing a jeweled rose - we danced in it, squidged it, added food colouring and watched new colours transform it, we froze some and made summer snow and did the same - and then, before not too long, PJ added her favourite activity - pouring - more and more water until, finally, it was just watery liquid to be poured and poured.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

First Week at Big School

Fantastic start, so far!
Hooray for Big School!
We have got out the door, this last week on time and proudly wearing the uniform.
She has carried and cuddled her toy that has a special job, to remind her that mummy will be back soon and once, we have left this precious transitional toy, in school!
The teacher returned it, safely to us at tea time!
How lovely was that!
This last week we have stayed for school dinners and yes, there has been the evidence of what PJ has been eating firmly imprinted on the new school uniform top!
We have had a few meltdowns, a few tears and a few loud and ear piercing screams of frustration, I suspect, over this last week - but on the whole, it has all gone exceptionally well and better than any of us could have anticipated.
Transition and change is such a big thing and potential trigger for many behaviours, patterns and responses to rear their ugly heads once again - wet pants, clinging onto me, tears, bouncing on and off furniture and being restless and excitable and tired are all a small price to pay for the joy she seems to have for big school and the big smiles that greet me when she sees me when I pick her up at the end of the day!
So far we have done half days at big school.
Next week, she will do full days!
I haven't told her that bit yet.
Or, that she will be going to big school and then big, big school, for many years still to come.
Some things can wait.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Preparing for Our First Day at Big School

Last year PJ talked about going to Big School, as she had had her pre-school boosters, so assumed that when she came to me that she would go straight to Big School but she has had another year of Nursery to do before she has actually started Big School.
And now, the time has come.
Big School Day.
Months of preparation, talking with professionals who have supported PJ and I this last year and lots of discussions with her new school.
I have purchased a million sets of school uniform, washed and labelled everything to within an inch of it's life and then a few weeks ago, we shopped for Big School shoes.
I booked an appointment - early in the day so the shop was quiet for a fitting - which really helped ease the experience for me and PJ and - probably - the assistant too!
For PJ, we have eased the idea of leaving Nursery and going to Big School.
PJ struggles with change and it is therefore likely she will regress with such a big move to school.
Indeed, after the 2nd visit to Big School, I noticed some signs of regression: disturbed sleep, tears, tantrums, wet pants.
I chatted with PJ lots and read books on starting school. We drove by her new school several times and stuck photos of her new school and her teachers in her special photo album.
I arranged with her class teacher, that we would continue sending in spare sets of clothes - just in case - and that she would bring in photos of PJ and I to help maintain a sense of connectedness. I spoke to her class teacher about PJ continuing to bring in her transitional object - who has a special job - to remind PJ that Mummy will be back soon.
The school had arranged for all the children to visit the school twice.
The Nursery also arranged for the small group of them all going to the same school to go and visit another time together.
I also then arranged for PJ and I to do a quiet walk through the school at the beginning of this week, before term started, just a few days before PJ was due to start school. This really helped, as we could see the playground, see her coat peg, remind her of where the toilets were, meet the teacher and teacher assistant again, see the gate where we would walk as we wouldn't be going through the main school reception area entrance on the first day of Big School - and this change could throw her - and we did all this in our new Big School uniform - as a practise - it all really helped pave the way for the big transition ahead.
Perhaps the most significant preparation has been the discussions around reassuring PJ. After the second visit to big school, I noticed a regression. I had a hunch and went with it - a nagging thought - what if PJ thinks that a move to big school also means a move to another new Mummy?
I said to PJ - You do realise that when you go to Big School, I will still be your Mummy, you are not going to another new Mummy. I am your Mummy now.
Oh, she said.
I fought back the tears and added: I will take you to big school and I will pick you up. You will still live here in our house with our cat, Smudge.
Oh, she said.
You see, just a short year ago, PJ had said goodbye to her Nursery and then had said goodbye to her foster carers and then come to live with me, her new Mummy. A short while later we started another new nursery.
Now, just a short year later, we talk about leaving Nursery and going to Big School.
PJ, had filled in the missing gaps and made the assumption that a more to big school must mean a move to a new mummy - after all, a year ago, it all meant just that.
This year, though, the move to Big School, is just that.
A move to Big School.
The preparation has been quite a process.
Ready or not, Our First Day at Big School has finally come.

It went really well.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

New Starts - Big School et al

This week marks the end of an era and the start of a new one.
PJ will have finished her first year with me - yes - a whole year since placement - and the end of her Nursery years - and the start of BIG SCHOOL.
School transition here we come!
I have mixed feelings - for her - how will she cope with yet another change - and how will she settle with big changes and challenges of going from a key worker ratio of 1 to 6 and into a class of 1 to 30 - and how will she progress or will she regress?
I have mixed feelings - for her teachers - how will they cope with her - how will they help her to settle, to reassure her and set good boundaries in place for her to feel secure and also to help her to rise to the challenge to learn and for her to learn well - how will they take on board all that has been said and written in preparation for her to transfer to big school about her background and complex needs and still see the vibrant and yet vulnerable child?
I have mixed feelings - how will I cope with losing her - a year at home with PJ has gone so fast and there is this sense that I am losing her, irrational I know, but it is there -how will I cope with going back to work as my adoption leave is coming to an end and I will be returning to work - how will I juggle our new and changing work life balance and still retain and maintain some fun and quality time at home with PJ and I together?
Anyone else have my rambling thoughts, worries and concerns with the start of going to big school or returning to work?