James's blog: Lessons learnt
In September my four-year old daughter started full-time school. While our focus for the past five months has been supporting her learning in this new environment, with the first term now behind us I thought that I would reflect on what I have also learned during this time:
- School is tiring! Unfortunately this doesn't result in weekend lie-ins. But it does mean that my daughter wants a lot of downtime in the evenings and at the weekends. We've always been careful to avoid overloading her with extra-curricular activities but we've had to pare back the few that she does to avoid tiring her out further, and she is much happier for it.
- Phonics is not necessarily intuitive for those of us who didn't learn to read that way. Luckily my daughter has proved to be an excellent teacher to me, my wife and the rows of soft toys that make up our "at home" classroom.
- My daughter's capacity to cope with change amazes me. Moving from kindergarten (part-time) to reception (full-time). Dealing with changes to the teaching staff due to the illness of her teacher and the departure of the class teaching assistant. All has been taken in her stride with minimum fuss.
- You can't protect your child's world all the time, and there will be things that happen during the school day that upset them without you being around to soothe them. As parents all we can do is try to teach them the skills to deal with it and ensure that there is a stable environment at home where they feel comfortable talking to us.
- If there are things that you're not happy about with the school, don't just join in with the parent rumour mill – communicate with the school staff!
- Until parents' evening it's largely a guessing game as to what your child does each day at school. My daughter's stock responses when asked what she has done at school each day are "nothing", "everything" or "can't remember".
- School adds another level of admin to your life. From remembering which days the PE kit is needed, to bringing in bits and pieces for craft projects; from monitoring the homework that needs to be done, to helping organise the class stall for the Christmas fete – my "to do" list seems even longer these days and I feel like I need a "school" PA to help me to keep on top of everything.
- I will probably never stop questioning whether or not we are doing the right thing. From working part-time to avoid my daughter having to attend breakfast and after-school clubs, to the whole state school v private school debate. I thought that I would stop continually assessing these things once my daughter had settled into school life. As with all aspects of parenting, however, nothing is ever fixed!
James is a lawyer in the City. He moved on from a Magic Circle firm, where he had spent eight years, in search of a better work/life balance. He now works a four day week at a smaller City firm and looks after his 4-year old daughter on his "day off"..
Category: A Cityfather's Diary