Wednesday 18th July 2018

Starting School Stories. #LifeThisWeek 6/52. 2018.12.

Starting School Stories. #LifeThisWeek 6/52. 2018.12.

For this week’s prompt I am having a trip down a long, winding memory lane of kids (and teachers!) starting school from this retired teacher, deputy principal, principal, mother and grandmother! There are more than a few stories let me tell you but I shall add the few.

For those readers who have just had a child start school, daycare or pre-school this is my annual letter for you…to send to the teacher.

Me as the School Starter.

Back in 1954 I started school after the September holidays. I was 4 years and 9 months. Yes, there were 3 terms for a long, long time in NSW schools. We lived in the same street as the school so I certainly knew where it was. Mum took me on Day 1 and I looked around me at the kids that were crying. “Why” I thought. Anyway, once we got into the classroom I was in love. Up the back was a white full-size rocking horse. I so wanted a ride. I do not remember if I got one, but I do remember liking school a lot and this was fun.

Off to Gwynneville PS. Our Tunic was Brown (I think!)

Our Daughter as a School Starter.

When your parents are both teachers and they are appointed to a very isolated school in NSW with Dad as the (teaching) principal and Mum as the teacher and it’s time to go to school this is what you do. There is no uniform, so you dress in your fave outfit, add a cool bag because you LOVE Abba…and off you trot across the space between home and school called The Playground. You know this place so well but right now there are around 20 different kids you haven’t yet met but eventually you join in their games, called your parents “Sir” like the other kids do and thrive on the independent learning in a small school.

Born in August and turning 5 that year, MIss K was able to start ‘school’ in February as we had a pre-school class too.

The school is on the right of this pic. The tractor is picking up kids from the local Aboriginal community to bring them to school in Term 1 1976 when we had major floods.

Our Son as a School Starter.

In complete contrast to his sister’s enrolment at her parents’ school, he was enrolled to start at the local (now we were in Sydney) large primary school. Having already been to the orientations and pre-school the previous year he was used to the ‘leaving his parents thing’. On the day he began, I was at my school where I was an Assistant Principal but wanted to be part of his start, so I returned to his (soon-to-be) school, met his Dad holding his hand, and down to the classroom we went. Without a backward glance, his nametag already on after Orientation the year before, he entered the classroom, the teacher said “goodbye” to us. That was it. Anti-climactic but at least I was there.

Student Starts School With Entourage.

As the Deputy Principal in a large Western Sydney school it was my role to meet each new starter (not everyone came to Orientation the year before) and their parent(s) to ensure all the relevant details about the child were current and to ask if there were any questions, and welcome the child and family to the school. I allowed around 10 minutes per child and it usually went well.

On one memorable occasion more than the parents entered my office with the child. I saw siblings and I guessed grandparents giving this one small person an overwhelming sense of “woah”. I could see this and asked the family to please stop the photography of me and the filming of the child being enrolled. They did.

But it set a precedent for me as I certainly understood the reason to mark the occasion but with the stressors placed upon a young child beginning school it was enough. No more photos or filming as enrolment took place. Far more important for the child and family to feel welcomed and at ease with this NEW event.

 

Underage Child Found To Have Started School.

At the above-mentioned school before I became the Deputy Principal there had been some lapses in viewing and noting the various documents that needed sighting before a child can start school. There is a requirement that a child cannot start school in NSW Public Schools IF they have not turned 5 after 31 July.

So in the year of my appointment to the school here’s how we (the Kindergarten teachers and I) found we had an underage child at school. One little girl seemed, according to her observant K teacher not able to do some of the gross motor activities which included how to walk upstairs (the school was two-storey) and she had little language and seemed “young”. I made a phone call some weeks into the term to the contact number and her mum answered. I asked outright what the child’s birthday was and the age worked out to be that she was 3. She would not be 4 until later in the year. I explained kindly but firmly that she would have to come and get her child now and that she could start the next year. The mother said sheepishly when she came to pick her up “I hoped you wouldn’t notice her and I didn’t want to find more childcare where I have to pay”. Sad but true.

We had much tightened arrangements for enrolment from then and that little girl did come back the following year and started school successfully.

Today’s School Starters.

For the past few years, the Australian government requires all students to undergo an initial assessment upon enrolling at the school where they will enter… Kindergarten, Prep, Year One (we still have different names for the first year of formal schooling in Australia. Sigh).

In NSW Public Schools it is called Best Start. It is a snapshot on one day of the enrolling student’s capabilities/readiness/knowledge/skills PRIOR to starting formal education. This is a good thing! The students’ baseline is a measurement that is used by the schools and the parents in terms of ‘where is my child at’ and lends itself to support if required or extension or that the child’s progress will grow accordingly in the first year of school.

When ‘Best Start’ happens is up to each school but more and more a child is given a Best Start Assessment in the week before he or she starts school. In fact I have seen this occur for three of my younger grandchildren. Best Start is done with a K teacher (usually) and parents may or may not observe but probably will wait elsewhere for the 40 minutes or so for the assessment. Then the child starts school on a date and at a specific time within the next week. This little one was pleased as punch to have her new school shoes when she came to see us. I sure hope she enjoys wearing them for 5 days a week from Monday 5 February.

 

Handwriting help.

An added bonus to this post. This is an example of the first handwriting children will see and copy in NSW schools. It is NSW Foundation Style. This is the early years’ printing. I used to do this handout when speaking to parents’ groups at pre-schools so they could ‘practise’ themselves. Children learn that capital letters are for names and so on. That is why all capitals is discouraged in early writing.

I wrote this 3 years ago and the message still stands!

What Do You Remember About Starting School?

Denyse.

Joining here with Alicia for Open Slather.

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You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week is the optional prompt’: 7/52.  “Who’s a Worrier? 12/2/18.


 

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Easter. #LifeThisWeek 15/52. 2017.52.

Easter. #LifeThisWeek 15/52. 2017.52.

Easter has always meant this to me:

  • a 4 or 5 day break from school when it was not part of the NSW School Holidays
  • a time to re-group after a busy first term
  • traditions of meatless Good Friday and me making a ‘fish dish’ for my family who loved it
  • eating maybe one hot cross bun (toasted) with butter on Good Friday. Not a great fan of H.C.B.
  • deciding whether to give out chocolate Easter eggs to kids and grandkids and usually coming up with the answer ‘yes’
  • not over-doing the chocolate egg thing as kids/adults get soooo many that they’re often still hanging around till Christmas
  • Easter Hat Parades. At School. Organising them and/or ensuring hats were made for kids/grandkids.
  • traffic on the roads leading out of Sydney so avoiding driving on major roads for that very reason
  • pleasant weather – sunny and warm days
  • family get-together at some stage if people were still at home
  • a visit to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney

http://images.getconnected.dnsw.com.au/

Now that we are living away from family and they have their own traditions we do not catch up. We prefer not to drive on the dreaded M1 (motorway between us and Sydney) because of the traffic AND the more frequent accidents which cause delays and more.

So we will be having an Easter that is not really different to the way we live each day of the week and you know what…that is FINE by us!

A few times we held Easter Egg hunts at our place and the one we remember most was when eggs were hidden throughout our garden. All the grandkids from youngest to eldest had the most wonderful time finding them and checking back with their Papa to ensure they had collected the number allocated and then they got a bigger stash. It was to keep it fair as the eldest were in their late teens and the others were toddlers/pre-schoolers.

http://easterstockphotos.com/free_images/eggs/easter_egg_pile.jpg

One place I always visited alone or with kids/grandkids was the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. From the time I was a girl and my family would come up from Wollongong for the day, I loved it. It was the atmosphere, the fun, the colour and the spectacles in the ring with the animals and the parades. As a teen I went with my then ag student boyfriend and we had members’ tickets which was awesome. Over the years at the old Showground at Moore Park I’d drive in with our then kids early on the first Sunday of the show to get a good park. We would walk around for quite sometime and catch up with the animal exhibitions, the pavilions, the games and then sit ringside for events and the woodchopping.

The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW moved the Show to Homebush and whilst it was not quite the same, they did benefit from the organisation of the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and transport was included in a Show Ticket.

I went each year taking the bus from near our Glenwood House. I sometimes took grandkids and other times went by myself. I loved checking out what interested me. The last time I visited the Royal Easter Show was in 2014 when I took Miss 4 and Master 6. We had a ball! Such great memories made.

So what does Easter mean for you?

Denyse.

Joining two blogging friends who have link-ups on Mondays here: Alicia for Open Slather and Kell for Mummy Mondays. Happy Easter!

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