Thursday, 20 July 2017

First Year Of School

Wow, what a difference a school year makes. Today was the last day of Reception for Big Sister. That’s a whole school year persuading her she needs to be out of the house, suitably dressed and on time. Impressively we haven’t been late once, but there have been a number of mornings my throat has been sore from shouting. We have gone through 3 pairs of school shoes, lost countless cardigans and her book bag looks tattered from being dragged around. The changes to her belongings over the last 11 months is nothing compared to the changes I can see in M.

A picture of M in a green and white checked summer dress on her first day in Reception next to her last day in Reception
First day of Reception and last day of Reception
My big girl is smart and very strong willed. She has known her letters for a couple of years and by the time she left preschool she could write most of them without help, but she had no interest in reading. This always surprised me because she has loved books from when she was tiny and not a day will go past without her asking to have one or more read to her. I knew that once she realised she could read the books to herself instead of looking at the pictures and making up the story she wouldn’t look back. I tried to teach her to sound out letters, but she found it too hard and refused to try.

Big Sister’s Reception class was relaxed and while she was sent home with reading books and very occasional words to learn there wasn’t a big pressure to get her to do homework. The first month or so of school I asked M if she wanted to read her school book and she would say “no” so I left it. There was a note left in her book saying “please write down when she has read her reading book”, but otherwise nothing was mentioned by the teacher. She would spend her time drawing pictures and looking at other books so I wasn’t too fussed.

One day I got her reading book out of the bag, sat down to have a look and M asked if she could read it. Of course I said “yes”. From that moment on she has always been interested in reading her book. From sounding out every word and needing help in October, she now reads lots of words by sight and can sound out a lot more. Having a child who can read is quite a strange transformation; suddenly she will ask me what words mean that she has read off something. I need to pay attention to what is left out because now it’s not only the spoken word, but the written word we have to be careful about. I hear her on her own in her room reading books for hours some evenings. It makes me smile that she has come so far and can take her love of books up to another level.

There has been a big change in Big Sister’s writing too. While she hasn't got to grips with the cursive, joined up, style of writing her letters are getting much better. Other than the occasional confusion of ‘b’and ‘d’ she writes most of the letter correctly. Her handwriting isn’t neat and a recent focus has been to write smaller, but the words are improving. The last month or so M has started to write sentences in notepads a lot more. She sounds the words out and attempts to spell them. The spelling isn’t always correct, but I can normally read what she has written because they phonetically make sense. I think it has surprised her how far she has come as well because she was shocked when I read out loud what she had written on her own the first few times.

A brown wooden door with a M on it and two pages ripped out of a notepad. The notes say "No bude cum in my room inles I say you can" and "Your the moost menist you are sophie and mummy"
Expressing her annoyance through letters on her bedroom door!
There has been huge developments in other areas too. M is able to add and subtract and has a better understanding of money. Every thing in the school tuck shop costs 50p so she can understand money in terms of multiples of 50p. Her drawing has improved, although she still loves “process art”. I love the term process art. It basically means it’s more about the process of creating art than it looking like an actual thing. It gives me as a parent permission to let her be abstract in her creations without pushing her to make her pictures look like something. At times she will create recognisable creations, but she loves to just create.

School has helped develop M’s love of music too and they have even taught her how to sing more in tune. Not that you can tell when she is loudly singing songs while she has her headphones on. 

Having spent the last 5 years in nursery full time then school I am used to M coming out with statements of knowledge, but this year there has been a huge increase in information she has shared with us. From geography to science I never know what she is going to come out with, while she has claimed she has gained some of the information from Octonauts and Go Jetters I’m sure the majority is from school. She loves to share her learning whether the time is right or not, for instance while watching Beauty And The Beast at the cinema she started to tell me how the wolves were carnivores and then went on to say what herbivores and omnivores are. She’s even taught me some new things like what a digraph is.

A pink piece of paper with felt tip hearts, stickers and other patterns

I love to see M excited about learning and discovering the world. She still hates it when she finds something hard, but she has more confidence that she can achieve something and will ask for help when needed. She seems so grown up and I have to remind myself she is only 5. She can’t always manage her emotions and she doesn’t always understand what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable, but that will change in time.

School has given M a chance to show her nurturing side and I still feel a warm glow when I think of her looking after a friend in the Christmas concert. Her school report comments how she loves to help others too (especially on the computer, but no surprise there).


My eldest is a little sponge who has learnt so much over the last year. She wants to absorb every new experience and piece of knowledge. I am so proud at how far she has come and I am excited to spend more time with her over the Summer holidays.
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