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26.2.14

Starting School at 4 Years Old.

I think that no matter what age our children are we will always think they are little, especially when it comes to milestones such as starting school, starting reception, and then moving into mainstream school and heading through Year 1 to Year 11 and onwards if they so choose.

When Charles started preschool we didn't send him because we wanted to get him out of the house for however long or felt he really needed it. His speech has always been really good, at 18 months you could have a proper conversation with him, with full sentences and could easily understand what he was saying. He was good with his numbers, his alphabet, something at the time which seemed so normal yet since having Harry who doesn't do the things Charles did, we can now understand how well Charles was doing at that time. I'm not saying he was advanced because I don't agree with that term when it comes to children's development, but we know he was a year ahead in a lot of his learning and developments.

The reason we sent him to preschool was simply because we could. We were given those 15 hours of government funded hours and although his learning new things wasn't of great importance to us at that age, his understanding of the environment was. Being around other children, communicating with other children, learning a routine and to listen to adults and following instructions were important too.

When it came to going to school it was tough, as it is for many parents. Although I didn't feel strongly that he shouldn't start there was a part of me that wanted him to have an extra year at preschool, but we went for the full time at a local reception option instead.
We didn't want him joining Year 1 straight from preschool, to be shocked into this very new environment surrounded by children who knew this new building, new how things worked, and more importantly new each other.
I briefly considered sending him part time but then I hated the thought of taking him away from friends at lunchtime and them all continuing to form bonds and friendships and him being excluded from that.

The first few weeks were tough. Harry didn't cope very well and desperately missed his brother. Every time we went out he thought we were going to see his brother and this caused some emotional meltdowns for him. Charles settled in really well, despite the nerves taking over on the first day as he woke up (you don't need to know details) and being so poorly with a 24 hour bug on the 3rd day of school and already having to take a day off sick.
He was tired coming out of school and for a while I felt like my child had gone and was replaced with a boy I didn't know. I would dread the time to collect him as I knew there would be tears and that I would have done something wrong.
It was hard sticking to a strict routine too. Preschool was quite laid back and if you were late dropping them off it didn't matter. Yet now it was a fight to get a space some days, dodging the most ridiculous of parked cars (seriously, does common sense disappear whilst it's school run time?!) and being invisible as you walk to get your child...clearly a pushchair isn't big enough to see or to move over for.

You have constant fears and worries of whether or not school is right for your child. Are they too young at 4? Should he be at home? Be at preschool? I know I questioned our decisions a lot.
But now?
I don't know why I questioned our decisions at all.

To see how he, and the other children, can read and write blows my mind. To think that we could have held Charles back from developing something that is clearly ready and active seems so silly.
He finds learning fun, he enjoys Maths, he enjoys spellings and reading. He can colour in a lot better than he could when he left preschool. He is more aware of lines and shapes in a picture and will try and stick within those lines as much as possible.

His eagerness to learn is brilliant. I love moments when he sits and drawers and things are so clear. His writing is the cutest thing ever and makes me feel like I have the cleverest boy in the whole world, despite other children doing the same. I love how he spells things differently because he "sounds them out", like Woz instead of was, and Sosij instead of sausage
Reading blows me away and he can sit there and read a book to me with very little help.

One of the proudest moments so far was getting this note in his reading diary. Getting moved onto the next level in reading in what seems like such a short time is amazing.

As a June baby Charles is one of the youngest in his year, so I don't really agree with the argument of the youngest ones being left behind.
Schools are full of children with a range of abilities and of course willingness to learn.
Everyday most of the children in the reception classes rush into school, squealing when they catch sight of their teacher, looking forward to writing down the missing numbers from the whiteboard, and learning new things.

I can't wait for the day he brings me home the very first story he writes, the day he comes home and wants to talk about Greek Mythology, Volcanos or Anglo Saxons.

The best school years for me were spent at Primary School, and reliving those years through my child is, as Charles would say, "really awesome".



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