So sad that my daughter has left Primary School

The last photo of my Girl in her Primary school uniform (sob)

I knew I’d be like this. I’m such an emotional wreck when it comes to things like this!

This year I had two emotional ‘Leavers Assemblys’ to attend.

My twins finished Year 2, which means they’ll be moving on to the Junior school. It’s separate to the Infants so it feels like a big deal. And it is. It means my boys are growing up.

I cried the whole way through their assembly. Yes, because of all the feelings that stir with the realisation that this is the end of their time at the Infants, but for me, also, it was because my shy twins stood right at the front and sang their little hearts out!

In any kind of sharing assembly they’ve done in the past, they’ve hidden. They’ve been so shy that they would literally go to pieces and crumble before my eyes…. they’d curl up and cringe and want to be invisible. It was always painful to watch. They hate any sort of attention. To them, they would’ve felt as though every parent was looking at THEM. No matter what I said, or how their teacher’s tried to help, nothing worked.

So to see them standing there with their fellow Year 2 peers, singing away, my heart was puffing out and bursting with pride! It was amazing. That in itself signified a massive milestone for my tiny boys.

The ‘Leaver’s Song’ is incredibly heart wrenching, describing how they are moving on and loving the friendships they’ve formed…. how they’re proud of things they’ve learned and about the new path they’re about to take in the world. I can’t understand how anyone would fail to be moved to tears by it!

My daughter sang it too.

She’s in Year 6 and it was even more poignant for her as she’s leaving the school for good.

The school where she’s been incredibly happy and made some lovely friends. She doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t go to that school. It’s been somewhere she went every day for seven years!

My Girl’s very first day at school in Reception.. aged 4!

I knew I would find it difficult but I haven’t been prepared for how hard it would hit me once she had left.

The last few weeks of term were crazy manically busy, accumulating in the Year 6 Leaver’s Party!

But first on Friday we had the Leaver’s assembly. It was very emotional. We were taken on a journey of their time at the school. Lots of photo’s lit up on the big screen in the hall from the projector. Stories were told and quite early on, some of the girls were in tears. One of my daughter’s friends stood up to sing a song but she couldn’t get the words out.

This set me off.

Within moments, my daughter was crying and it was all I could do to stop myself running to the stage to comfort her. There were a few songs, then the Leaver’s song again.

I sat there looking at her through tears in my eyes. The words cutting through me like a knife.

I didn’t want this to be it. I didn’t want this to be the last time she would be at her school or sit there with those children. I didn’t want this to be the last time she would ever wear that uniform and look this young. I wanted it all to stop, for time to go back so she could stay here a bit longer.

The girls all clung to each other afterwards. It was so so sad.

But the day ahead for them was a busy one. They had all the fun shirt signing to do before heading off on the traditional London bus ride around our local town, then finally ending up at their Leaver’s Disco organised by us parents! Their families were invited down for a BBQ later where we stayed until around 10pm when it finished.

My daughter and some friends from Year 6 enjoying their party.

It was a great evening. The kids had so much fun and it was lovely for us Mum’s to have this last evening all together. Many of the kids are going to different high schools so it was the end of an era for us too and we all got a bit emotional.

My daughter was tearful in the car on the way home bless her. But they have all vowed to stay in touch and I guess it will be much easier than it used to be, with everyone having smart phones. They already have lots of Whatsapp groups that they’re all in so really they will still feel close!

For me though, it really hit me the next day.

The full on craziness of the past few weeks had given way to an eerie, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I picked up her uniform and stared at it for a while. She would never wear it again. Ever.

I glanced over at her sitting on the sofa, absorbed in her phone. My baby girl. No longer at our beloved primary school.

It seemed so final.

Everything is about to change. So much more than she could ever realise.

I’ve got a 17 yr old so I know only too well how much she will change in the next year. High school does that do a child and I’m not ready to go through that with her just yet.

I don’t want to.

I want to keep her like this for a little bit longer please if I may?

She is on the cusp of growing into a young lady but right now she is still so young in her mind, still so childlike and so much fun. She still loves cuddles and to play with her little twin brothers…. In another year that might not be the case.

We spent a lazy day together. I watched her play in the garden… she’s grown so much recently. Not so little anymore.

When I tucked her up in bed that night, I kissed her, squeezed her hard then went into my own bedroom and sobbed.

I sobbed and sobbed. Uncontrollably.

I want to stall time. It’s going way too fast and I can’t stop it. I don’t want her to grow up and I don’t want things to change.

I love her so much. I love the way she is right now and even though I know there’ll be lots of fun ahead…. I’m not ready for that.

I was thinking about the school run. We’ve always gone together. Me, her and the twins. All three of them have always worn the same uniform and they’ve always been together. Not any more.

The last time all together in school uniform! (*sobs again!)

In September, my twins won’t have their big sister with them when we leave for school. We will go without her. She will walk to her new school.

After school when the twins come out first, we won’t walk across to her classroom to wait for her. She won’t be there.

Everything will change and I don’t want it to.

I know I should embrace it and I will of course. I’ll have to.

But it all makes me so sad.

Time is passing way too fast. In the blink of an eye my children will be all grown up and it’s hard to accept.

This summer I want to spend every second with my beautiful Girl and breathe in her young loveliness while it’s still there.

Then in September, I will watch with pride (albeit choking back the tears) as she puts on her new uniform and heads out the door, ready for the next new chapter in her life.

Week 27 Photo – School Mini Enterprise


Aww my Girl.

Here she is at school this week, taking part in Mini Enterprise. The school does it every year for the Year 6’s, whereby they sell things on stalls and it’s a lot of fun for them. They have a couple of weeks to sort out teams decide what they will sell on their stalls. They can do anything they want… but they are given a very small budget so they have to be creative.

My daughter here is doing hair (one of her favourite past times). Her team were doing hair, nails, tattoos and the boys were doing milkshakes with ice cream and making popcorn! The rest of the school are invited to bring in some money (small amount) to spend on the stalls and then parents can come along later to spend money! The kids really enjoy it and it teaches them a little about entrepreneurship!

My lovely Girl will be leaving school in two weeks time… this will be one of the last times I’ll probably photograph her at school and in her uniform. Bless her she looks so cute in her frilly little ankle socks here….. I’ll miss seeing her dressed in this uniform.

I’ll be talking more about this as the school term ends. My twins have a big school milestone too coming up. They’ll be leaving the Infants for the Juniors, which I haven’t quite got my head around yet! Yikes… it’a all moving way too fast!

I haven’t done a weekly roundup post on the blog for a few weeks…  School has been manic with all three younger kids involved in school plays and sports days and trips, we’ve been incredibly busy.

This week I should’ve really been at the Christmas in July shows which are taking place in London. I usually attend as many as I possibly can every year and love them, but I simply haven’t had time this year. I’m hoping to get to some though this coming week.

I’ve also been helping Teen prepare for a very important job interview this week. He’s down to the last round and he had to write a presentation! He’s only 17 so it was a very daunting task for him! I don’t want to say too much about it though in case nothing comes of it but he said it went well so fingers crossed!

Hope you all had a great week!

SATS – Really not a big deal!

I’m a bit late writing this post but I didn’t want the whole SATS topic to go by unnoticed as I’ve had THREE children doing them this year!

My 6yr old twins who are in Year 2 (KS1) and my daughter who is in Year 6 (KS2).

I’ve seen the masses amounts of media coverage about the SATS over the last few months, about how unfair the examinations are, especially on the Year 2 children, who are 6 or 7, depending when their birthday falls. I’ve read numerous posts about how children are stressed out and upset about them and of course I get angry that my children this year are having to undertake much more challenging and difficult exams than ever before….. but in all fairness, my kids haven’t been in the slightest bit worried OR stressed.

Even though I don’t agree with the extent of what’s expected, I would like to give a slightly more positive experience of the SATS this year.

My twins are the youngest in their class (August born premature… meaning they should’ve been born into the school year below) and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I feel they should’ve been allowed to start school a year later, but unfortunately my local council didn’t allow this. Even more unfortunate for us is the fact that had we’d gone through the process now, we would’ve been allowed, due to the Summer Born campaign.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that my twins are VERY young in the school year so when I heard they would be tested like this (proper exams), I was obviously concerned. It just didn’t seem fair. I downloaded the new pilot SATS paper to check out what my twins would be expected to know and do at 6 years of age and I was shocked!

There was no way my boys would be able to answer these types of questions. To sit and WRITE down answers clearly…. they can barely WRITE! Not in any kind of well structured sentences anyway! And to do it all in a set amount of time too?

I spoke with their teacher who reassured me that even though they were working on all the test requirements, they were doing it in such a way that the children just thought it was all part of their everyday learning. There was no pressure at all and the children were pretty much unaware they were taking exams. They would just be presented with the SATS papers at various intervals throughout May, as part of a lesson. She agreed that some of what the children were expected to know at this age was simply ridiculous, but actually, they had covered a lot of it and the children were picking it up fast… and happily.

She said the results of the tests wouldn’t be taken into account in her end of year assessment of the children. She would assess them on their overall achievements and progression throughout the year.

This made me feel at ease. I thought the school were handling this well and I decided that it didn’t matter how my boys did in the SATS. They’re SIX years old and I know they’re improving all the time. Which is all that matters to me.

I totally get why there was a huge group of parents who boycotted the SATS this Summer though. Kids this age just need to enjoy school, play and be kids.

But, if this is the way that schooling is going, if this is the way my children are going to be assessed from now on, then I do feel like it can’t be ignored. I need to help them. I don’t want them to lag behind their peers. So we did look at the papers occasionally at home, without mentioning the ‘test’ word and just to cement what they were doing at school (in a fun way). Actually I was quite surprised at how much my boys knew already, especially when it came to grammar. Even I get confused with nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives! They don’t. They know what each of these words mean.

It just goes to show that a school CAN prepare our young children well for these tests, without it being an issue and without it being stressful.

Maybe we are the lucky ones, I don’t know. I don’t expect my boys to have performed well in their tests. In fact, they may have just sat there and not written anything down at all for all I know! But they didn’t mention any exams or tests once, and were their usual happy selves throughout, so it obviously didn’t phase them one bit!

It’s all good.

Equally with my daughter, she too wasn’t worried.

Again, for the record, I do think it’s unfair, the extent of what they’re having to know and understand at 10/11 years old and unlike the Infants, the Junior school have been FULL ON with the Year 6’s for the SATS. Their teachers, both Maths and English, have been thoroughly going over papers and practicing them since the middle of last term…. which proves just how important the results are for the school and how the difficulty levels of these exams have stepped up about ten notches this year.

The kids were fed up with all this English and Maths study, although they’ve made up for it since with lots of fun activities… but none of them were miserable I have to say. No child was stressing, or upset or worried as far as I know. Plus the extra work paid off. My daughter knew what she was doing (mostly) and felt quietly confident. I’d already made it clear to her that there was absolutely no pressure from us. As long as she tries her best, that’s all that matters.

I’d read stories of Year 6 children in some schools being in floods of tears after the first SATS paper! My daughter came out of school that day like she does every other day. Happy. She said she missed out two questions, shrugged her shoulders and said it was quite difficult, but she thinks she did OK. And that’s fine by me.

Honestly, the SATS aren’t that important… only for the school’s purpose (makes them look good, or not) and for the Government. They will make little or no difference to my daughter’s life as she moves on to secondary school. Working hard for these SATS can only stand her in good stead though for future schooling and again, I wouldn’t want her to fall too far behind as this can affect a child’s confidence just as much as pushing them too hard, in my opinion.

It’s got to be a fine balance.

I think we got the balance just right this time.

My three beautiful children have done their SATS and come out of them unscathed.

I’m so proud :)

Mama Owl

Week 20 Photo 2016 – My Girl

 

This week has been all about her really.

My Girl.

She’s going on her school trip tomorrow to the Isle of Wight (boohoo) so I’ve been trying to make sure everything is ready and in place.

She’s needed some new clothes because she’s grown so much recently! She’s been eating like a horse and has really shot up! She’s still one of the smaller ones in her year group but she’s catching up fast now! This residential trip is a PGL 5 day activity trip which means she needs all sorts of clothing for every weather eventuality. It’s such a pain because the weather looks so changeable right now. We’ve had to buy clothes for hotter days as well as cold days. We just don’t know so we have to be prepared!

I’m going to miss her so very much. She’s such a Mummy’s girl and loves snuggling with me and generally just being around me. Bless her, that will probably all change when she reaches the teenage years so I’m unashamedly making the most of it now!

She did the residential school trip last year but that was only for 2 nights and although she enjoyed the activities, she was glad to be home and didn’t enjoy the experience overall. She was homesick. It put her off going this year but in recent months she’s been getting excited. She’s a year older and knows the ropes so hopefully it will be a happier experience!

I think she’s going to really enjoy herself this time.

Fingers crossed!

In other news this week, I’ve been finalising details for my Girl’s birthday party. It’s in two weeks time.. more on than later though.

My Girl and I also went to our local little theatre (where the above photo was taken) this week to see some of her friends perform in their theatre group production of Bugsy Malone. It was a fun night and they all performed brilliantly!

Hope you all had a good week :)

Week 10 Photo 2016 – Gone with the Wind

I completely missed out week 9 of Project 52, just in case anyone is wondering. Life got in the way!

So onto last week…. Week 10. This was spent at home mostly because I had my daughter off school ill.

I was working on Monday but when I picked up my Girl from school she seemed exhausted. Weirdly exhausted…. To the point of her taking herself off to bed that evening ridiculously early. I think we know, as parents, that when a child does that… something is definitely wrong!

The following day she slept and she didn’t really improve on Wednesday so I took her to the doctors. Of course (as is the usual diagnosis) the Doctor informed us that she had a virus and possibly asthma because of her lingering dry cough (I don’t think it’s the latter but a virus sounded about right as she did have a temperature). Whatever it was though, it completely whacked her out and it wasn’t nice seeing her so down and lethargic.

On Friday I decided to put on this film. Gone with the Wind…. My favourite film ever. I used to love watching old films with my mum when I was a little girl and this was the one that I loved best. I’ve seen it so many times. I always wanted to watch it with my own daughter but the time has never seemed right and the fact that it’s old and relatively slow, I wasn’t sure she’d be interested in it. Plus, being a four hour epic, with all the other things she could be doing instead…. I didn’t think she would sit through it to be honest.

But she did… AND she enjoyed it! She was distracted at times, as I thought she would be, and she asked a couple of questions about what was going on in parts, but she said she liked it! I think it’s one of those films that you have to watch more than once to really appreciate, and she’s possibly a bit young to truly understand the story line.

It’s such a good film though. Scarlett O’hara has to be my favourite character of all time and the story of her life, her relationship with the dashing Rhett Butler and the American Old South is incredibly gripping and moving. It was wonderful to watch it again (I haven’t seen it for years.. possibly since I was a teenager!) and I’m so glad my daughter has seen it now too.

Too young for Instagram?

Ok. So I’ve allowed my daughter to have Instagram. She’s 10.

A few of her friends have it, including her best friend, and considering the Instagram account can be private – that is, only people you’ve accepted to follow you can see your photo’s – I gave in and said she could have one too.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing App. It’s hugely popular, especially among young people. You can take a photo, do some basic editing like enhance the colouring then upload it to your account. You have ‘followers’, who can see your photo’s (if your account is private…. if it isn’t, ANYONE can see your photo’s if they want to) and you can ‘follow’ others so you can see theirs. You can ‘like’ or comment on photo’s (this is social media after all) and your followers can do the same with yours. Most people will follow their friends and maybe some people of interest to them, like celebrities, bloggers, photographers etc.

Can a child use Instagram?

Well, Instagram is for ages 13 and above. 13 is the recommended age for most social media platforms, but that doesn’t stop younger kids using them.

Should I have said yes?

I made my decision in haste to be honest. I figured that if her friends parents have allowed it, and it’s completely private, where’s the harm? I didn’t really think it through properly and now, a few weeks in, I’m questioning whether it was the right thing to do.

Initially, all was good, she just uploaded photo’s off my Camera Roll on to her Instagram account. Or she took pics as she went along and posted them. This was fine. She had a few friends that she followed and who followed her back. This was fine too. But then, other ‘friends’ were requesting to follow her. Some were girls who were in the year above at her primary school, meaning now that my girl is in Year 6, these girls were now in high school…..Year 7.

My daughter was very good, she knew she had to ask my permission if she could say yes to anyone that requested to follow her. This was one of our rules. But the problem was, because some friends were at high school, they act slightly older. The photo’s they uploaded were slightly different to hers, not in a bad way really, just different.

Selfies.

Lots and lots of selfies.

Now, my girl wasn’t sure about selfies at this point. She hadn’t really done any before unless she was  messing around with the ipad at home, or with me. But even her best friend pointed out that she should at least put the odd selfie onto her Instagram… that’s what people do, she told her!

So she asked me to help her take one. I think she felt a bit silly at first. It wasn’t really her. I mean, she’s not very ‘showy offy’, which is what selfies are all about aren’t they? They’re very self indulgent. However, she was keen to master it. Holding the phone whilst she took a pic was the trickiest part for her. But she got there in the end!

The result is the above photo. Her very first, proper ‘posing’ selfie. And she looks super cute in it (even if I do say so myself!)

She has since become a bit of a seasoned pro. Here are a couple of others she’s taken…

should my child use instagram

But I’m not sure how I feel about this. Has this selfie taking made her too aware of herself at this age? Probably. The two images above of her on her own don’t even look like her! She’s doing that typical teenage pose and even though it amuses me a little, I don’t like it. It’s too grown up.

This is what has made me question myself a little. She’s only 10, should she be that self conscious that she now likes to practice her poses for Instagram worthy photo’s?

But then again, she IS growing up and even before Instagram, she would play with makeup and look at herself in the mirror, or pose for pictures for me to take, so really is this any different?

Luckily, she’s not THAT into Instagram. Maybe she would be if she was allowed to use it whenever, but she only goes on it now and again and pretty much forgets about it when she’s playing and being a normal 10 year old.

I don’t really want to take it away from her now but maybe we could’ve waited a bit longer. It IS a nice way of her to be in touch with some of her friends, especially her best friend who has recently moved to another school. And she would’ve seen it anyway when she’s at her friends houses, but I WILL monitor it and I WILL have total control.

So how do I monitor my daughter’s Instagram?

First of all I was upfront in what I expected from the start. This is very important. Laying out the rules, what was allowed and what wasn’t allowed. Especially me being able to look and check the account at all times.

Next, Restrict Usage – At the moment, my daughter is only allowed to use Instagram on my phone, which means I have to physically log her in. I don’t allow her to sit and browse for too long, which could potentially allow her to stumble across something inappropriate.

I monitor all Follow Requests – She has to ask me if she can allow someone to follow her. Only people she/we know well are allowed. If she’s not sure, then we say no.

Check Uploaded Photo’s – Because my daughter uses my phone, it’s easy to keep tabs. She’s usually with me when she’s taking photo’s or uploading a photo. She has had Instagram on the iPad when she’s had friends over but I do keep checking in to see what they’re doing.

Keep Talking – I think showing an interest is very important and keeping them aware of the do’s and don’ts of social media in general is imperative. It just keeps things fresh in her mind as she gets older so it’s (hopefully) ingrained. My daughter likes to show me some of her friends photo’s too. I look anyway, because knowing what her friends are posting is a necessity. If anyone is posting anything inappropriate, they’ll be deleted. This hasn’t happened yet though I’m pleased to report!

Should YOU say yes?

If your child is begging you to allow them to have Instagram and you’re just not sure, then I would think very carefully before you say yes.

You have to be comfortable with it.

Obviously I’ve said yes, and that’s because I believe Instagram is OK as long as you’re monitoring it. As long as their account is set to private and you’re very choosy in who’s allowed to follow, then it’s a relatively safe option.

I mean, how many kids watch You Tube? We’ve all sat there whilst our kids are watching a cute video one minute, only for them to suddenly stumble across some dodgy cartoon that’s aimed at much older children or adults the next!

And if they’re at an age where their friends have it, this is a time when I think you do have to be realistic. They will look at it with them anyway. It’s not as if saying no will protect them from it completely.

We can’t stop our children from growing up and they ARE going to be exposed to the world of social media whether we like it or not. The important thing is to be open and not allow anything to be private. Your child usually won’t mind this if it means they can use it.

I won’t be allowing any other forms of social media though. Not for a long time… and probably not until the recommend age. I hope having Instagram will suffice for now… my daughter can keep up with what’s going on from that… she can even message her friends on it! I think kids spend far too much time in front of a screen as it is and social media is just too much of a distraction from normal life.

One is more than enough for now.

My Beautiful Girl turns 10

Here she is, my daughter. The most perfect human being on the planet as far as I’m concerned!

And last Saturday we celebrated her 10th birthday.

I’m in shock actually that she’s 10. TEN! Double figures! How the hell did THAT happen?

It seems like a big milestone.

But I’m not going to say ‘she’s growing up fast’, because really, at the moment, she isn’t!

Yes, she’s getting bigger. A lot bigger. Especially in recent months. Her body is slowly starting to change. She suddenly feels heavier in my arms and on my lap!

But she’s still my little girl. She’s still very much a child in the way she thinks and acts, and I’m holding on to that as long as I possibly can!

I’ve realistically got another year or two before things will no doubt change forever. But I’m not going to dwell on that right now. I really do try and savour my time with her. I feel completely blessed to have her, she’s truly the loveliest person.

And now she’s 10!

So back to her birthday!

To celebrate my girl turning ten, she invited 7 friends out to the cinema to watch new Disney film, Tomorrowland.

The girls!

The girls enjoyed the film. I did have concerns about it though after someone very kindly told me it was really boring the day before, but luckily the girls didn’t think so! It’s a more ‘grown up’ Disney offering so possibly not suitable for small kids, but it does have George Clooney in which was a bonus for me!

After eating popcorn and candy floss in the cinema, instead of having food somewhere like everyone does after the party, we headed off to a Dessert Parlour, Kaspas, that’s just opened up in our area, for some more sugar overload! Oh yes! Kaspas is a relatively new chain of yummyness and is definitely the place to be right now around here! We’ve already tried it but some of the girls hadn’t, so they were very excited about going!

Kaspas Desserts

My girl had an absolutely fantastic time. She and her friends laughed non stop and stuffed themselves with waffles, ice cream, chocolate, cookie dough, sundaes… it was dessert heaven!

She had a perfect day.

A perfect birthday for a perfect girl :)

 

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