Parenting. It is the hardest job in the world. Whilst it can bring us endless amounts of joy and happiness, it can also bring out the crazy side. Sometimes we can lose ourselves in the exhaustion. In the confusion, the frustration and the worry. The endless worry that sometimes brings out the inner alter ego who we ALL try to keep hidden. That side that we know can rear its head at any time, but desperately hope it doesn’t. We never want to be THAT parent. That parent who loses it at the supermarket whilst their child has an epic tantrum on the floor. The parent who loses it on the phone because they have been on hold for 30 minutes whilst trying to occupy small children from spilling Coco Pops, all over the floor. The parent who cries when they get to work because they haven’t slept all night.
Nothing brings out THAT side of parenting than the adventure that next year, we are about to tackle for the first time. School. Next year our daughter Ella, starts prep. It’s exciting, its nerve wracking, it’s scary, and it’s amazing. However, school is not new for me. I’ve been a Primary Teacher for 14 years. For the last eight, I’ve actually managed our Prep Transition and worked our new parents to help them navigate the ups and downs of preparing for school. Preparing for school, for their children and for themselves.
However this time they are experiencing school from a different angle. Many parents have not stepped foot inside a school for decades. Many, since they too left school. Primary School education has changed a lot in recent decades. It is actually very different from when we went to school in the 80s. It’s amazing. It’s innovative. It’s inspiring. It’s a place of endless knowledge and potential, where our children can find and discover parts of themselves that both they, and we never knew existed. School is not the four walled classroom with one teacher that we all knew. It know often consists of open planned classrooms, often with more than one teacher. It’s not the ‘one size fits all’ delivery of curriculum that we experiences. Often there is NOT rows of desks, but rather occasional furniture where children can choose where and when to sit, or stand, together in groups or on their own – depending on what they need for their learning, and when. Schools now personalise curriculum for their students. It’s incredibly detailed and dynamic.
Whether it’s the focus on how curriculum caters for your child, or the uniform they need to wear, or the expecations on ‘what they need to know before they start’, school transition can be very daunting for parents. From my own experience, it’s not only children who need help transitioning to school. Parents too need to be prepped for Prep too.
Starting school can be a time of mixed emotions. It can be exciting and extruciatinly stressful at the same time. Everyone has varying expectations and experiences, and no one person is the same. Nor should we expect them to be. To some degree, everyone feels that they ‘know about school’ because they have an experience with it. Being a parent however, is very different from being a student. Being a student is very different from being a teacher. As parents, we bring our own memories of school to the table. If you loved school, then you want your child to have the same experience. If you hated school then you want to do everything you can to protect them and help them to have the complete opposite. Sometimes though, we have to stop, take a deep breath and remember that they are in good hands. I know that with the right support, everyone can be fine.
Whilst I’m confident and sure of my ability as a teacher to help parents through the experience of starting school, the problem is, that next year I will be one of those parents, and I’m petrified. I’m petrified of myself. Of the Mother and parent, that may rear its crazy head. Perhaps not publicly, but certainly privately. I don’t want to be that parent who:
- stresses too much.
- worries too much.
- thinks too much.
The problem is, when it is your child, all sanity, rationality and common sense can go out the window. Sometimes you just lose it, and often unintentionally can make things worse. It may not be openly towards other people, but it may be inside your own head as your anxiety escalates. Next year Ella is starting school at what we already know is a caring and nurturing place. She won’t know anyone however, and being very sensitive (like her Mum), I know she will struggle a little. So in my efforts to try to not be THAT parent, and listen to my own professional advice (ie. struggling can actually be a good thing to build resilience), I’m going to write a new series of blog posts. Advice to myself, and parents like me. Those who worry too much about what people think. Those who know that everything will be ok, but they just can’t seem to stop stressing. Those parents who have gone a little crazy going back to school again.
So I need a little favour from you. As a teacher, I know what parents need to know from a school perspective. However on the flip side, what things do YOU want to know. As someone on both sides of the fence, I would really love to know what aspects about transition and schooling that stress you the most. It also may be something that you wish you had have known years ago, before your child starts school.
Either leave a comment below on this post, leave a comment on FB , email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a DM on my Instagram account.
I want this series of blog posts to make a difference to us all. To help us all be prepped for Prep.
So what advice to you need as a parent to be Prepped for Prep?