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.


  1. Sounds like you've found a great school there who have been able to support you and PJ with a smooth transition. I hope she's enjoying Big School...

    Thanks for linking up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO

    1. thanks Vicki - I am just delighted with the school - so far for catching up to speed with our situation and potential needs.


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