Articles Early Years Education

Reception-ready? My child is, but I’m not!


As my youngest daughter approaches her fourth birthday in a few days and the start of full-time school in September, I find myself thinking about how rapidly the last few years have gone.

From her quick, but traumatic birth, at 16 days late to her recently learning to read, there are so many memories of my baby and I’m not quite ready for her to become a big girl. Of course, she’s currently a stubborn ‘threenager’, so already thinks of herself as a ‘big girl’. If I tell her she’s a little girl, she will instantly correct me. 

So, the term ‘school-ready’ is a well-used one, but what does it mean? There is no straightforward answer actually. Some people believe it is important for children to be able to recognise their name and write it, and recognise and recite numbers. Others opine that children ought to be able to form appropriate relationships with adults and peers, dress and undress themselves, and be able to use the toilet. Personally, I think that both of those lists would be fantastic for pupils to be able to do! My daughter is there with all of those, but I’m hoping that with a few more months yet before September, she will become more understanding towards others when they disagree with her or want to join in an activity she is doing.

What about me then? I’m simply not quite ready to be standing at the school gates watching my recently turned four-year-old trot off into school. However, I am certain that she is ready and that her school will be able to provide her with an exceptional start in her life of formal education. As a 37-year old, I know that she is my final child and that is a difficult fact to accept. However, regardless of the number of children someone has, I’m sure that they will feel the same when they eventually wave off the youngest. 

This morning was the home visit from my daughter’s teacher and teaching assistant; she is the same teacher as my eldest had and with whom she flourished. I have absolutely no qualms about the situation and my daughter was so excited, so was jumping around all over the place. She showed confidence, bringing her favourite toys (and some other random bits of tat) and talking about them at length. I, on the other hand, was less than confident. In spite of being a teacher myself and having been through this before, I did still feel some nerves. I needn’t have as they were as lovely as I knew they would be. 

With just under three months to go until the ‘big day’, I’m more determined than ever to make each day count. I’m going to take her on lots of outings and get loads of photos of the two of us together. I don’t know about other mums, but it’s very rare for someone other than me to take photos of me. I’d like to encourage others to snap away whenever me and my daughters around to catch us off guard and being natural. I adore spending time with and nurturing both of my girls. I remember many many special moments, but I don’t have any photographic evidence of this. I’d love my girls to look back through photo albums and see photos of them with me, not just them on their own or with their grandparents.

Although she is a summer-born child, the option to defer never crossed my mind. For some children, this could make a huge difference to their start in life, but I don’t feel it necessary in this case. Next week, on her fourth birthday, my ‘little’ (as my eldest used to call her) will step into the classroom officially for the first time. She’s beyond excited and I am looking forward to her telling me all about it. However, if she’s anything like most children when they first start school, the answer to ‘What did you do at school today?’ is likely to be ‘Nothing!’

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