Don’t Want to Go Back To School

Ever since the Easter school holidays began, my Twins were asking me...

"We're not going back to school today are we Mummy?".

They said it with such worry that I felt terribly sorry for them and it made me not want to take them back to school again, ever.

They're only four and I've been ever so concerned about them starting school too young, as I've written about on many occasions, but I've tried to convince myself that they're ok. They've settled in and that's it.

They don't talk to me seriously, being so little, so I can't fully understand what's bothering them but we try to reassure them as much as we can. They just want to be home I suppose with their Mummy instead of out in the big wide world, as they see it! I know they find certain aspects of school daunting, like the 'big playground' at lunchtime, or even just having to communicate with people. Bless them.

Being late August born premature babies, O and H have, by default, started school the year before they should have, had they been born on time, and it's been an emotional journey because I felt they were no where near ready to start Reception last September, when they had just turned 4 yrs old.

Painfully shy and clingy, they had struggled all through nursery and I felt I needed to take action, but after months of trying to delay their school start for a year and not succeeding, I reluctantly had to send them.

But it's been a much more positive experience than I imagined. My boys settled in reasonably well and have fantastic teachers who are aware of my concerns and who have been amazing with O and H, understanding their needs and helping them to overcome their shyness.

My boys have made friends but it's still incredibly obvious that they're younger than the others and it hurts my feelings when I think they don't want to be at school. I think, well you're so tiny and young, I don't think you should be there either. I have a hard time with this.

My twins are ever so close

I sometimes wonder if I should've tried harder to secure a delayed school place but I knew that if I did win my case, it would've been very unlikely that O and H would've been offered a place at the school I wanted. The school they are in now. So I felt it came down to a choice, and because their Head Mistress reassured me that my boys would be fine, they'd make sure of it, I decided to take the plunge and hope for the best.

It's tough though because I'm always going to think.. what if?

Maybe I make matters worse in my own head. Everything they do, or can't do, I put down to them being young. Too young and immature for the cohort they are currently in.

Take writing for example. They struggle and can just about write their names at the moment and this is the last term now of Reception. H isn't even comfortable holding a pencil for any precise work which I think can't be right, surely? He doesn't want to try at home when I suggest it. O is slightly better and definitely more keen to learn but can still only write the letters in his own name.

Reading is another issue. They would rather place the opened books on top of their heads for a laugh than read the words! They're pretty good at recognising all the letter sounds but they can't blend them together, even if they've seen the word on every blummin page they say it wrong lol! But they enjoy being read to, which I'm sure is a positive.

I'm not going to force their reading though as I believe they'll get there eventually. I also know that in some European countries where children don't start school or learn to read until the age of seven, they are no further behind ours by the age of secondary school so what's the point of starting ours so early? I just don't want my boys to feel inadequate if they don't pick things up as quickly as the others in their class, who are older.

I know that many of them can read well now, which concerns me a little, although some of the others are still pretty much in the same place as my boys, so maybe I'm worrying needlessly. Their teachers don't seem worried at all, they say it will fall into place eventually and that abilities in the classroom sometimes don't even out until year 2, but it WILL even out.

I hope so.

I have a friend who has a son in Reception, not at my boys school, but he is one of the oldest in his year with an early September birthday. O and H are a whole year younger, (more if you take their actual DUE date into account which was the end of September) and I know that if they were starting school THIS September, things would be much easier for them AND me.

But anyway, they are back at school now, yesterday was their first day and they were fine. They were excited when we arrived at school and they saw a couple of little boys from their class. When I picked them up they were very happy so I'm hoping all is good.

I'm always going to worry I guess, and I would've worried whichever year group they were in. I'm their Mummy and it's what us Mummies do isn't it?

Miss My Babies

This morning after I dropped the children at school, I drove to the Post Office to pick up a parcel, it's the window one where your parcels go if you're not at home when they arrive in the first place.

Once I'd picked up said parcel, I slowly drove down the steep hill to go home and I noticed a woman with a pram struggling a little on the pavement, pushing the pram up the hill.

In an instant, I was taken back to a moment in time where I too was that woman with a pram, struggling up the hill, huffing and puffing..... it was completely unexpected but I suddenly felt a surge of extreme sadness.

Emptiness even.

Because when I thought about that day, a few years ago when my twins were only about a year old and they were still so small, sweet and young... it brought home how much I miss them being like that. I could see them in that moment, clear as day. They were in their double pram and I was taking them to the library for the baby/toddler reading session.

I remember how I struggled with the weight of both boys, plus the pram, plus the heat (it was a hot day), trying to push them up this grueling, ridiculously steep hill.

I remember how, when I got to the library, sweating buckets, I nearly collapsed. I felt dizzy and faint and was panicking for my boys safety.. what would happen if I were to pass out?

My little baby boys sitting in their pram as I walked, their little round faces and chubby, cuddly bodies on show. Both excited about going out. For all the world I wanted to be back in that moment with them, to relive that day. Days when were were always together and able to go somewhere if we wanted. I wanted to lift them up out of their pram, hold them close and squeeze them.

I miss them now they're at school every day.

I almost began to cry. I felt lonely. I was alone in my car, reflecting on where my babies had gone. On that day, a few years ago, we would've been together, happily going for a walk, doing something.... because we could. And now I spend my days without them. Busy doing other things of course, but without THEM.

Maybe I took that time for granted. It seemed so far in the distant future that they would start school, I felt like we had forever together, but of course we didn't.

I cannot get those days back. I'm done having babies now, and it's not about babies anyway, it's about those particular babies. MY twins who I adore and who I loved to be with...

What I was feeling was grief.... mourning the loss of times that I know can never be repeated.

I know they're only four years old now and I still get to pick them up from school and be with them, but it's not the same. At times it was very difficult back then, coping with the two babies, plus my older two children, and a lot of it passed in a blur of exhaustion, so I sometimes feel as though I missed out. I didn't/couldn't appreciate it as much as I'd like to now.

I want to be back at home with them, doing all the things we used to do, or doing nothing apart from snuggling, cuddling and playing. I could cuddle and kiss them as much as I wanted, relishing every second of their baby lovliness for the short time they were at home with me.

I would give anything to be there again.

It's gone so quick.

And I never wanted them to go to school this year. I felt they were too young, being premature, late August borns so it's been very difficult for me to let go.

They were my whole life for the four years I had them at home, just them and me, together, every single day.

I just miss them so much.

This photo wasn't taken on that day but I think they were around this age and size

This photo wasn't taken on that day, I think this was shopping in Sainsbury's which could explain the miserable faces hehe, ¬†but they were around this age and size. I just loved my boys like this! I felt so special, lucky and proud (still do) to be mummy to my twins ūüôā

 

 

mumturnedmom

Park Fun in the Rain

Friday is my afternoon with the twins day.

I wanted to do something outdoors again this week and I know it was pretty darn cold but I think it's good for the boys and especially for me to get out in the fresh air.

I do hate the cold though and I have to force myself to go out in it if I'm being completely truthful. Once I'd picked up my boys I was very tempted to come straight home but I didn't.

We drove round to the park near the school and grabbed the scooters out of the boot. I hadn't realised how biting the wind was - I applauded myself quietly for not walking the whole way!!! (good move)

scooting at the park Not very clear shots but scooting into the park

I'd already decided to take my boys straight round to the cafe in the park for lunch (any excuse), and stay in there as long as I could! We sat near the radiator and ate our delicious lunch, which was bliss. I love eating out with my boys. I could've happily stayed in there all afternoon, I didn't want to move but O and H became restless.

Then it hit me.

As I was getting my coat on my heart sank. I caught a glimpse of the weather through the window and it was pouring down with rain!!!

Bugger! That'll teach me for sitting on my backside for ages, avoiding the cold. Now it was cold AND wet!

The park was deserted, the sky was an odd colour, a sort of greeny grey mix and no one in their right mind would've hung around.

Except us.

O and H were gagging to get into the playground and nothing was going to convince them to forget this idea! But actually, even though it pained me and I reluctantly agreed to take them in, we DID have quite a lot of fun!

They loved it. Squealing with laughter as they ran around, splashing in puddles without a care in the world - in school shoes too I might add, not wellies!! The added dimension of the rain appeared to make it ridiculously exciting for them.

Empty rainy playgroundThe playground that's usually so busy on a nice day looked cold and empty in the rain, but at least we had it all to ourselves ūüėČ

Playing in the rainy parkRain not spoiling the fun

twins sheltering from the rainFinding shelter...

twins climbing framePeek a boo

Rainy park funO running around freely in the wet playground - I love this photo

We stayed in the park playing for as long as I could stand it. Our fingers were so wet, cold and red that it made it difficult to stay out in the freezing rain. I needed to thaw out. The boys, I'm sure, could've stayed much longer.

When we had reached the car O and H were soaked, even though I tried to put their hoods up I don't know how many times!

Wet twinsCoats soaking wet and drenched hair... the twins liked this, it was something different for them as we don't usually play out in the rain!  Aww love my sweet boys so much

Coats off and heater on full blast in the car. A great afternoon after all!

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week – 31/01/14

wee wee

This weeks word is Wee-wee. Yes it's in the dictionary!

My little 4yr old boy, H, has had a hard time at school this week with regards to doing a wee..... in time anyway.

He does it in his pants.

And it's not even like it's a little dribble, it's one that requires a change of trousers and underpants, which his lovely classroom assistant deals with. Sometimes it requires a change of socks too if the wee-wee is a long one, which means his shoes are sometimes sodden aswell.

But it doesn't stop there.

He can do TWO wee's in one day. Which means yet another change of trousers and underpants.

This has happened four out of five days this week and on those days I've had three pairs of trousers to wash, his own and two pairs belonging to the school! This was a particularly bad week I'll admit, but not going to the toilet at school is proving to be extremely tiresome for all concerned.

H luckily doesn't seem too phased by it. He's actually not that bothered, which gives me some comfort. But he must be a little embarrassed and would rather it not happen. I have obviously tried talking to him, to find out why he won't go to the toilet, but he's only four and I don't get much of an answer.

I think I can assume that he's simply too shy. He can't bear any attention so putting up is hand to ask to go to the toilet is far too distressing for him. Classroom Assistant thought it was happening at lunchtime. This could make sense because H is a little anxious about going on the 'big playground' at lunchtime which concerns me anyway. Maybe he nervously wee's. Or, he would have to use differently toilets to those in his classroom, which would be daunting. Or perhaps he's just playing and doesn't want to stop for a wee, he does this at home.

After the second day of this, Classroom Assistant decided to take action and encourage H to go for a wee-wee BEFORE lunch, then keep a close eye on him thereafter.

This worked for one day then he was back to wee-weeing again in his pants.

Being a premature August born I am in constant turmoil as to whether my twin boys were ready for school last September and this doesn't do anything to ease my concerns.

We can only reassure him and try to encourage trips to the toilet before it's too late. His teachers have also come up with a plan for him to make a T signal in the classroom, like the one used for 'time out', if he needs to go. This alerts them without him having to put up his hand up and drawing attention to himself!

Hope we have a drier week next week. (in more ways than one - this never ending rain is driving me crazy!)

The Reading Residence

Word of the Week – Cough

This new linky which is run by The Reading Residence wants us to sum up the week we've just had in one word, which is think is quite fun.

My word for this week is:

wotw1

As I've mentioned already, my four year old twins have been consumed with a cough for the past fortnight but this week it notched up a level. I don't think I've had more than two hours sleep in one go any night this week without one of the boys waking me up coughing and spluttering. It's been awful and draining for us but especially horrendous for them. It's a cough that seems to have grown in magnitude at night, during the day it was hardly noticeable at first although it became worse as the week wore on.

At night though it was unbearable. Both boys would start coughing and literally couldn't stop! We tried everything; high pillows, honey, vapour, but nothing at all worked. Interestingly though (and luckily), even though they share a room they didn't wake at the same time which is strange really. Sometimes we were able to settle them again but other times they were too distressed and we had to bring them into bed with us, only for them to start coughing in my face!!

The joys ūüôā

The boys were off school on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week but have been on antibiotics since Thursday evening so it's now starting to ease off. Thankfully!

The Reading Residence

Winter Outdoor Fun

My twins finish school at lunchtime on a Friday so last week I planned to make the most of our free afternoon and do something with them. They were tired as three full days in school after the Christmas holidays (inset on the Monday) had taken their toll, and I was tempted to just bring them home to relax. But I didn't just want to do that and after surrendering to the fact that they are now indeed at school in reception, these Friday afternoons are going to be tremendously precious for the three of us.

But what to do?

I decided to go for a winters lakeside walk to our local Aquadrome. It's a beautiful nature reserve at any time of year.

O and H were excited when I collected them, they were filled with curiosity as to where we were going. I kept it a surprise!

DSCF2684

On arrival they were fascinated with the map

They couldn't wait to see the ducks, so we had a quick look then headed to the little 'Cafe on the Lake' as it was lunchtime and they needed to fill their little tummies first. Not much in the way of a childrens menu there but no matter, they had a pizza to share.

Looks like he's enjoying it but they didn't eat much

Looks like he's enjoying it but they didn't eat much

DSCF2685

Thirsty

I had a lovely latte and we chatted about their morning at school!

O and H were terrified of the geese lol

It was cold but refreshing as we walked. O and H were terrified of the geese lol

The lake looked particularly stunning in the winter sun

The lake looked particularly stunning in the winter sun

We headed round the corner to feed the ducks, although we weren't actually allowed to feed them because feeding ducks bread is apparently bad for them. I'd completely forgotten about that little fact. How annoying is that though? It's not as much fun if we can't throw bread in and watch millions of ducks come over all fighting for it!

feeding ducks

Beautiful ducks but the boys were a bit disappointed we couldn't feed them our bread.....

Next up we raced round to the playground, H clutching on to his Iron Man teddy, he loves it and takes it everywhere

Next up we raced round to the playground, over the bridge, H clutching on to his Iron Man teddy, he loves it and takes it everywhere

At this point the weather was changing, the sun had gone and the sky was beginning to turn a delightful shade of grey. I was wondering how much time we had before it rained, it was a long way back to the car! The whole place was waterlogged, the grassy areas like ponds and mud everywhere.

This playground is a bit dated. The equipment could do with a spruce up but the boys loved this climbing frame.

It took a while and some courage before they would go down the slide, but once they started I couldn't stop them!

It took a while and some courage before they would go down the slide, but once they started I couldn't stop them!

Swings and smaller climbing frame (H, on the left, looks happy in this pic - NOT)

Swings and smaller climbing frame

The wind was picking up and time was ticking on, we had to get back to school pick up my girl so we headed back.

Racing over the bridge, minus the coats, all that playing is

Racing over the bridge, minus the coats, all that playing is hot work

Taking in the beautiful lake

Taking in one of the many beautiful lakes

O and H are so close, they really do get along so well which is a delight to witness. They don't hold hands very often so this was a real treat... awww

O and H really get along so well which is a delight to witness. They don't hold hands very often though so this was a real treat for me... awww

Even though it was chilly, it was gorgeous to be walking around here. Spending so much time indoors, I felt invigorated being out in the fresh air. The rain started but instead of making a run for it back to the car I decided we should embrace it!

We tried to catch raindrops on out tongues!

We tried to catch raindrops on our tongues and take selfies, as you do! Love my boys

Ah we had such a fab couple of hours.

We couldn't get out this week because the twins weren't well and were off school anyway, but I'm already thinking of where we can go next time for our winter walk and adventure!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Is Your Child Too Young for School?

With the cut off date for applications to be in right now for the schools September intake, I thought I'd write about something that many parents are taking more and more seriously. And that is whether their child IS ACTUALLY READY FOR SCHOOL.

There is growing concern amongst parents and education professionals that a child who is just turned four, or a 'Summer Born' is simply too young to start school.

Anyone that's read my blog before, especially this recent post regarding my twins O and H starting school before I felt they were ready, and my ongoing torment surrounding the effects of summer born children in school, will know how much I, myself, have stressed about this issue.

My boys were born prematurely, mid August instead of the end of September and therefore falling into the wrong school year, and I have had major concerns about them being too young to start school literally just after they turned four. Three decades of research proves that the younger children in a year group are at a disadvantage. But for most parents, like myself, it's not just because of their age, it's about them, their personality; the fact that they simply don't seem ready. My twins are painfully shy, quiet and immature. They are very small and in my opinion, vulnerable.

Parents of summer born children and those born prematurely are beginning to realise and voice their concerns that their children are not going to be ready for reception. Some children at this tender age are still very immature, physically much smaller and have not yet developed their social skills which means they struggle to settle into school and could even be at risk from bullying. Safety issues come into play too when children so small are in a cohort with much bigger classmates, especially on the playground. This, as well as the research that proves summer borns, in general, do not perform as well academically as their older peers, simply because they are, in some cases a whole year younger. This is known as the 'birthdate effect'. All this can have a very negative impact on the rest of their education, their whole school life and indeed, their future.

If you're worried about your child, you need to know that YOU HAVE OPTIONS.

The DfE (Department of Education) have responded positively to the increasing concerns of parents, and with the support of MP's such as Annette Brooks who has campaigned tirelessly, and Elizabeth Truss who is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, the DfE issued much needed official guidelines to the Local Education Authorities (LEA's) across the country last summer.

These guidelines were Q and A based:

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/a/advice_summer_born_children.pdf

These official, but not legally enforceable, guidelines were to remind LEA's what should be known to them already but which they may not have been clear on, or worse, were choosing to ignore, and that is that any parent can request for their summer born child to delay entry into reception UNTIL THE FOLLOWING SEPTEMBER; that these requests should be taken seriously and that there is no 'statutory barrier' preventing them from doing this.

Of course, the LEA's must use their discretion in such cases to make an informed decision but they were simply being told, by Government, that they CAN allow a young, summer born (May to August) child to start in reception the following year if their parents feel it's in their childs' best interests. It shouldn't be a problem.

But there is a problem.

LEA's are not allowing this to happen. Not easily anyway, and that's not right.

At the moment, when concerned parents are turning to their LEA's for help because they believe their young child is not ready for school, the LEA's insist (as do schools) that their child starts school when he/she should, the September after they turn four, or (if you're lucky) by the very latest, Easter. Most schools will insist January is the latest time. If a parent wants to wait until the term AFTER their child is five (which they are legally entitled to), which means starting in reception a whole year later, they are being told NO and are being forced to apply for an in-year school place to start school in Year 1, but even then there's no guarantee there will be a place available. No parent really wants to do this as it would mean the child missing that vital transitional year in reception, therefore being at a further disadvantage on all fronts; basic learning skills are taught, friendships would already be formed etc... and parent's are scared they won't get a place at their preferred school.

Basically, parents are being made to feel they don't have a choice so reluctantly, they send their child to school when the 'system' tells them to, which is the September after they turn four, even though they feel their tiny, young child is no where near ready.

It really isn't fair. A year between ages four and five is hugely significant. Why would anyone in their right mind expect a child who has just turned four to keep up with and be compared to a child who is five? This is what happens at school and no matter how much teachers like to dress it up as..... 'no, we don't compare them'... they do. The system does because at the end of year 2 they all sit the same SATS. They do the same things in a classroom and this can often leave the younger children feeling inadequate because they can't quite grasp what's being taught.

It's cruel and can crush a childs' confidence.

To be clear, a child doesn't legally have to be in school until the term after they turn five years old, so even if you have a January child, you can still wait until the summer term to send him/her if you so wish. For a child born in the summer term it becomes complicated, because the term after is the following September, which technically is the next year group.

Most parents have no idea that they do NOT have to send their child to school until the term after they are five and they certainly have no idea that they can in fact, delay school for a whole year.

Of course, many young summer borns are more than ready for school, and even though initially the differences between the oldest and youngest is very noticeable, as time goes on it becomes less so. You will hear of stories whereby an August born child has been top of the class. But this isn't the case for most.

As a parent, YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD BEST.

This campaigning group are paving the way to ensure some much needed change occurs and they are helping parents to exercise their rights and challenge Local Authorities. They are on hand to give advice and support.

Delaying school for a year is not a decision to be taken lightly. You need to make sure you have thought it through properly.

There are lots of things to consider.

Being the oldest in the year group could have many advantages and not just academically. It would mean being emotionally stronger, enabling them to be more self assured, enabling them to cope with certain situations better. It would mean being physically stronger which (especially for boys) will result in greater confidence levels and being more likely to excel in sports.

But there is a flip side.

A whole year is a long time, your child might be more than ready by the time the following September arrives and feel out of place in a classroom which will obviously have some much younger children in. They may become bored.

There can be complications further down the line when it comes to secondary transfers. You would need to address this at the time as you will still receive the applications when your child 'should' transfer, had they been in the correct cohort. Also some senior schools insist your child 'skip a year' so that they're in the right chronological year group, this is so it doesn't cause difficulties when generating their GSCE result reports etc and possible confusion with funding. Although legally they would have to prove this is in the childs best interest which would be difficult, but nevertheless, it could be stressful.

Some grammar schools don't like to take students who are 'too old' for the year group. You would need to check your local one if this is something you anticipated for your child. Our local Grammar schools DO accept this.... I called them and they take children in at the year they have been educated in.

Children can be cruel too and once your child is a certain age, he/she could come under question from their classmates as to why they are in a lower class. Do you want them to feel different?

It's an important decision that only you can make.

It's worth noting though:

The legal definition for Reception class is primarily defined as a 'class for 5 year olds'. (section 142 of the SSFA 1998).

Lots of summer borns, including my twins, won't be five in the whole academic year they begin school in - not until the summer holidays anyway!

For us, after much soul searching and lengthy dealings with the council, we HAVE started our twins in reception. In the correct cohort. The reason being that our council were digging their heals in. They are a notoriously difficult LEA to deal with on this matter and I didn't want to risk my boys not having a place at the school I wanted, where their older sister is a pupil. The Head Mistress reassured me that they are completely prepared to work closely with my boys and could see no reason why they would not flourish. The school has been giving an 'Outstanding' status by Ofsted, it's a lovely school, so I decided to give it a go.

I was worried though. If you go by their due date and not by their actual birthday, they were still theoretically THREE when they started last September. They looked out of place and it broke my heart.

But, they HAVE surprised us all and settled in, better than some of their older peers in fact. They are now in their second term and they're happy. They started off by attending mornings only for the first half of last term (I insisted), then built up to two whole days by the end of term. If they were very tired I kept them off. This worked for us as we enjoyed lunch together and spent the afternoon together just the three of us. It meant they weren't overwhelmed and it wasn't really any different to being at nursery. Doing this wasn't detrimental to their development either, it helped because they were happy. Children won't learn if they are miserable. The school have been very good but I believe part of this is because I stood my ground and didn't want to force my boys into full time education until I felt they were ready. I knew I had every right to do this.

This term they are doing more of the same. They have an amazing teacher and classroom assistant who they adore. The teachers understand my concerns and liaise with me frequently. The Head Mistress keeps pressuring me to get the boys in for a whole week but I'm not backing down yet. They will do a whole week of full days when I say so. When I feel they are ready. After all, they're still 4 and legally don't have to be at school!

Time will tell how they cope academically but being happy and therefore, being able to flourish has always been my main objective.

If you believe your child isn't going to cope with school and would benefit from another year at home, to have the opportunity to mature before being forced into the classroom situation at such a young age and you want to delay starting school, I would urge you contact your local LEA as soon as possible. This will give you the best chance of a positive outcome.

My advice would be to NOT APPLY for a place in the normal round of admissions and fight your LEA to apply the following year. If you have already applied but decide later that your child isn't ready, tell the school and your LEA that you will not be taking up the place. You must understand though, by sacrificing your school place, there will be no guarantee you will receive another place there the following year.

If you think deferring your childs place like I have done would be preferable, which means either having your child attend part time or even starting a little later in the year, then make an appointment to see your childs new Head Teacher as soon as you have accepted his/her place. You can discuss your concerns and come to a mutual agreement. Be insistent.

You could even attend part time school and part home educate. This is something you would need to look into further, but it's another option to consider and one that is available to you.

The summer born campaign group, as I mentioned above, will give advice if you hit a brick wall with your school or LEA. They have a great Facebook page (link on their site) where you can chat to others in a similar situation.

Whatever you do though, don't be pressured into agreeing to something you're not comfortable with. Flexibilities do exist. Stand your ground, know your rights and do what you feel is right for your child.

Good luck.

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