Monday, 29 October 2012

Half term lessons learned.

After a mammoth 8 week first term at school and Ellie’s imminent start at her new school, I’ve been reflecting about how it’s all gone and I realise that I’ve learned some important things about me, about Ellie and about school.

1.     Routine is still important to me (and Ellie)
Right from when Ellie was a baby I’ve sought to have a routine and one of the key things I found myself focussing on during these first few weeks of term has been establishing a new routine that fits with school, work and us…that is our daily pattern of getting ready, getting out, getting home and getting to bed. I know this sounds silly and I also know that the need for a regular pattern to our lives very much stems from my ‘control freak’ nature. But I also know that Ellie likes it. She likes the predictability of the routine so that she can take ownership of parts of it – like getting dressed, working out the times we need to leave and she enjoys telling me off when I do something in the wrong order! There are also no surprises and the predictability of each event means a lot less battles.

So quite simply, it doesn’t seem to matter what stage of Ellie’s life we’re at – a routine is something we both appreciate and benefit from.

2.     She is growing up fast….but not too fast
I remember people saying to me that once they start school you lose your little girl. I also, if I’m totally honest, remember kind of snorting at them…after all Ellie had been in full time childcare for some time so I didn’t think the school transition would be a big deal.

There’s no doubt that Ellie has taken to school really well and for that, I count my blessings. She definitely loves learning and is a little girl who likes to be told she’s doing well. (She’s not so keen on getting things wrong of course!)

Her independent streak is developing nicely - she seems to like taunting me with the fact that I don’t know what she does all day, she dresses herself every morning, does her hair herself most mornings and knows what needs to go in her school bags. She particularly enjoys telling me to stop reminding her of things like collecting her water bottle at the end of the week and takes great pleasure in showing me she’s remembered later.

She has also come home using phrases and words which she’d never used before. I should note that several phrases are ones she’s been clearly instructed NOT to ever use again, but others are quite funny or just wider vocabulary than she’d used before.

Having said all that – she still wants to cuddle her mummy, still kisses me when I drop her off (even at school) and still wants me to check she’s wiped her bum properly after a number 2, or better still actually wipe it!

She is also exhausted after her first half term – ending up having a day off poorly during which she slept pretty much the whole day, and of course we’ve had the joy of tantrums – caused by pretty much nothing but because she’s tired. Hmmm, some things don’t change.

3.     It’s a fine line between encouraging and pushing
When Ellie was first born I found myself rolling my eyes and running away whenever other new parents would start comparing what their little one’s were doing– or especially when they talked about their plans to encourage (aka push) their little one to their next stage of development. My philosophy of supporting development, not pushing has been one that’s pretty much stuck with me throughout.

Since starting school, Ellie has been keen to learn her key words and practice her reading so occasionally asking her if she wanted to do so has been about reminding her and finding time to do it with her…supporting her.

You can therefore imagine my shock as one day this term I found myself asking Ellie my usual question of whether she wanted to practice her key words and upon hearing her response of ‘no’ heard myself say ‘well you’ll never learn them if you don’t try’. In that moment I realised I was moving quite clearly from supportive to pushy.

I also found myself casting a critical eye over her new school classroom on our visit and asking questions of the teacher about how they learn the key words, how often they bring books home and so on. Now I’m not a mind reader but I am sure the teacher’s face betrayed her thoughts of ‘oh dear, pushy parent’. My simple question to myself was then and there – is she right?

So my lesson is simple…it’s a fine line between encouraging and pushy…so watch it lady!

4.     School terms actually makes sense!
So my confession is simple – I’m one of those adults who could not for the life of me work out why the schools had so many breaks. Now of course…I know differently. Ellie is quite simply exhausted and what’s interesting is that this exhaustion doesn’t appear to be limited to just children in reception classes. Children do need the break – they just do.

As always I really would love to know what you think, so please send me a message either on here or via twitter:


  1. Glad the first half term has gone well! My pair have just returned after half term...I completely agree, that the timings of breaks are spot on - we ALL needed that break! Enjoy! ;-)

  2. Thanks Katie - it's good to know others feel the same. Sadly - because of Ellie starting a new school she won't be getting a full week off...that said just the weekend and today already seems to have done her good. I'm looking forward to finding out what next term brings and i'm 100% sure we'll be ready for the Christmas break!