Thursday, 27 August 2015

Moving Our Child Up a Year - Starting Primary 5

Z and Miss C returned to school last week; Primary 5 for Z and Primary 2 for Miss C.

Miss C was super excited to go to her new class as her teacher is really lovely and all the parents of children who have had her as their teacher before, rave about her. I'm really happy that she is also staying with the rest of her classmates from Primary 1. I would have loved for her to be in the same class as her best friend but they will still see each other at break times and for play dates.

If you've read my previous posts about Z, which you can read from this page if you haven't, you'll know that Z has been moved up a year. He should have started Primary 4 last week but instead, he started Primary 5. He's back in a composite class, his third one now, which is a Primary 4/5. 

At first, when I found out he was going to be in a composite class, I wasn't happy. Z has come on leaps and bounds over the last school year and I felt he would be better in a straight Primary 5 class. However he has been placed in the class with the rest of his friends and the school told me this was to really push the group because they are performing top of the year group. In a smaller composite class, the teacher will have more time to spend with them and really challenge them. Z was delighted that he was going to be with all his friends so I didn't want to change his class and upset him. 

At the beginning and at the end of each academic year, the children complete assessments in school. This allows the school to see how much the children have learnt and it gives them an indication of the level at which the children are learning so they can work out classes and sets. In Scotland there are 5 levels which are similar to the Key Stages; Early, First, Second, Third and Fourth. A child can be Developing, Consolidating and Secure in each level. A bit like a driving test; Developing is your first few lessons, Consolidating is being comfortable enough to drive and possibly take your test and Secure is you have passed your test and can drive yourself. Early level covers nursery to the end of Primary 1, First covers to the end of Primary 4 and Second covers to the end of Primary 7. Third and Fourth level apply to high school. 

All children are different and have strengths and weaknesses which is why I don't really believe in stages and levels being achieved by a certain age. Normative development suggests things children should be doing by a certain point in their life but there isn't a set in stone rule for how children develop or learn. My goal is to ensure Z is achieving his full potential and is being challenged in school. In the same breath, I want Z to be happy. 

I asked to see Z's assessments for the end of year so I could see how he was getting on. We had already seen his report card which was excellent and his teacher spoke so fondly of him. I was curious to see what level he had achieved in his assessments. If we were to go on these stages and levels and them being achieved by a certain age then Z, who would have been in Primary 3 if he hadn't moved up a year, would be a First level Consolidating. At the end of Primary 4, Z achieved a Second level Secure. This would be the level expected at the end of Primary 7. It was clear that he could possibly achieve a Third level in Math and English. 

What all this tells me is that Z is still progressing at an advanced level even with skipping a year of school. It hasn't affected him in the slightest it seems. Even the Deputy Head agreed that Z didn't appear to be levelling out, which was a huge concern for the school, nor had he suffered social or emotionally from the move.  

This year is going to be an interesting one. I'm still unsure about the composite class and worry that Z and the rest of his group will be left to get on with their work because they all work so well together. I hope they will be challenged and enjoy Primary 5. 

I'm proud of Z; I'm proud of both of my children. Miss C had an excellent report, just like her brother and she finished her assessments at her "expected" level. They both love school and really, that's all that matters to us as parents. Of course we want them to do well and reach their full potential but we also want them to enjoy their time in school, making friends and gaining life experiences. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Robot Run from Orchard Toys - Review

We've been huge fans of Orchard Toys since Z was a toddler and our collection has grown over the years as they have a huge range of board games and puzzles to choose from.

We were sent Robot Run, one of their new board games, to review. Robot Run is aimed at age 3 and over and is suitable for 2-4 players. Robot Run promotes colour recognition, turn taking and observational skills.

Inside the box are 40 robot cards, 1 paint brush card and the instructions. Handy to know, if you ever misplace your instructions, you can download them from the Orchard Toys website.

The game is really simple to play. Each player is dealt 5 robot cards and the rest of the cards are placed face down in a pile. The 5 cards are turned face up so the other players can see your cards. The youngest player starts by lifting the top card from the pile of cards and placing it on the surface, face up for all to see. If they have a robot from their 5 cards that matches either the colour or the type of robot, they place it on top and play moves to the next player. If a player can't match the colour or shape of the robot on the top of the face up pile, they have to take a card from the face down pile and add it to their own cards. The first person to get rid of all of their robot cards is the winner.

The kids found Robot Run really easy to play and really enjoyed the game. Z worked out quite quickly that he could use seeing our cards to his advantage and play the game strategically. Because of this, we decided to change the rules so that no one showed the cards they were dealt. This made the game more interesting and exciting for us all.

Robot Run is priced at £7.50 on the Orchard Toys website which I feel is really good value for money. The game pieces are really colourful, detailed and well made. Another great game to add to our collection and one that I would take with me in to nursery for the children to play.

We received Robot Run for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Dear Parent on the First Ever Day of School

I've been here before, where you are preparing to be. The first day of school. Ever.

It seemed to come out of nowhere. One minute you have a baby then a toddler and within so little time you have a child, ready to start school.

I went to the enrolment day and felt emotional. I went to the parent's meeting and felt emotional. We found out what class they would be in and which of their friends would be with them and I felt emotional. They said goodbye to their nursery and their wonderful teachers there and I felt emotional. I cried a little bit.

I bought the uniform and felt emotional. I held cardigans, trousers, shirts and pinafores against their little bodies and felt emotional. I bought the school bags and lunch boxes and felt emotional. I wrote their names on everything and labelled everything and felt emotional. We took them for their school shoes and I felt emotional...that may have been more to do with the price though. Shopping for school shoes for one - not too bad. Any more than one and well, it's not going to be pretty at the till.

The summer before they started school was one of the fastest summer holidays ever. 7 weeks, over in the blink of an eye. Days spent here, there and everywhere just trying to get as much done with them before they went off to school. Day trips, weekends away, shopping trips, treats, goodies...not a moment to be wasted. Time before school starts is precious, no matter what age they are but it is especially precious before that first ever day of school. You want to saviour every last second with them before you have to give them away for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.

The night before the first day of school, I stood in Z's room and then, two years later, in Miss C's room and watched them as they slept. No longer nursery children but children about to embark on one of the biggest adventures of their little lives.

On the first day of school, the kids were excited. I felt emotional as I helped them get their uniform on. Everything was big on them. Sleeves came down to lie on their knuckles. Z needed to roll his trousers up at the waist and Miss C's pinafore came down way below her knees.

As we reached the school gates, my stomach was in knots. It wasn't any easier second time round. In fact, it probably gets harder the more times you do it because it's closer to the end of the toddler era. At least when Z started school, I still had Miss C for company.

Seeing all of the new children, wearing clothes that seemed to be drowning them and bags that were almost the same size as them was hard. Seeing other parents or family members, trying to hold back tears and lumps in throats was hard. We were all feeling the same way. Even those who were putting on the front of being glad that, finally, they were sending the last of their brood off to school. They were probably suffering the most inside.

The teachers coming out to collect the children and giving my child one last hug and kiss and sending them off on their new journey, a journey that I will only be part of a little bit, was hard. Thankfully, my two took it in their stride. They couldn't wait to start school and walked in to the building, eyes bright, smiles wide. Some children didn't cope so well and I hope that doesn't happen for you because it was breaking my heart to watch so I can only imagine how hard it was on the parents of that child.

I wondered to myself, would the teacher get to know my child, the way I know my child? The way Z goes quiet and hides his face if he's upset or frustrated? The way Miss C puts her fingers to her mouth when she's feeling shy or nervous? The way Z's eyes light up when you engage him in something he's passionate about? The way Miss C starts to talk all fast and high pitched when she's happy about something?

I worried about them making new friends and being able to get changed for gym. Would they manage to eat their packed lunch OK? Would they manage to carry their lunch tray with their school dinner on? Would they have time to eat their lunch? Would they fall over in the playground and hurt themselves? Would there be someone to comfort them if they did?

When I picked them up after their first day at school, they were beaming. They were happy. I felt relieved. I felt like I'd worried for no reason. They told me all about their classroom, their teacher and the other boys and girls sitting at their table. They brought home artwork which we displayed on our fridge. They exclaimed, "I love school!" That made me feel so much better.

On our first parent's evening, I knew then that their teacher had gotten to know them and their little personalities. They understood them. Miss C's teacher could tell me how much Miss C loves to draw and be creative and, "boy does she love horses!" Z's teacher told me how bright Z was and how much he loved to read, write and do Math. "He has a brilliant mind!" 

Starting school is such a huge milestone not just for a child but for us as parents. It's scary. It's unknown. It can be hard to let go. But it's exciting too. It's new. It's the start of something amazing. Your child will be OK. You will be OK. There may be some tears but it will all be OK. And before you know it, the summer holidays will be here and you will spend every moment of that time cherishing all the time you have with your child.

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Week That Was #34

Last Sunday, Miss C was up early, raring to go to horse riding. I took her and Husband stayed home with Z as he was getting picked up to go out with his best friend. They were going to a trampoline activity centre. After lunch, Miss C had a party to go to. She was really excited as she loves a party. Husband took her to that so I could get on with some jobs at home. Z got home before her and told me all about the trampoline centre. He had a lot of fun as did Miss C who filled us in on the party games and party food when she got home.

On Monday, it was the last day of our summer holidays. It was a beautiful day but the kids decided they wanted to play with their toys indoors after seeing a huge wasp in the garden! I did the ironing and washed our bedding so it was nice and clean on for bed time. I got the school bags ready and set out the uniforms for the morning. The kids did go out to play before dinner and then complained when they had to come in after dinner for their showers and books. Both of them were in bed before 7pm and asleep by 7.30pm.

On Tuesday, it was time for Z and Miss C to go back to school. Thankfully, it was a really nice day for walking to school and they were in good spirits going back. I also had my college induction day which went really quickly. When I picked the kids up from school, they were still in good spirits and excited to tell me all about their first day back. Long may that continue!

On Wednesday, it was another lovely day. So lovely in fact, I sent the kids to school without a jacket. I also painted one of my fences that needed doing. Those were the jinxes that brought on the rain around 2pm. I picked the kids up from school in the car and dropped Z's best friend off at home to save him getting wet. We changed in to our jammies when we got home and had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. It was yummy!

On Thursday, I dropped the kids off at school, came home to get a shower and then spent the day doing a bit of work. It's been weird not having the kids here and I really think I'll be ready to get back to college in two weeks time. When the kids got home from school, they got changed and played with their Playmobil toys until dinner time.

On Friday, I dropped the kids off at school and headed to Asda for my shopping. It was great to do the shop in peace. As great as the kids are at helping, it does take longer to get round the shop. Z had his friend over for tea after school. They played outside a lot as it was dry and, of course, Minecraft featured heavily. Miss C watched The Fox and The Hound.

On Saturday, Husband took Z to Karate and he was asked to fill in his application for grading next weekend. If he gets his new belt, he'll be a purple belt! After lunch, we nipped in to town to order our dollars for our holiday. The rate better not go up now! We nipped to the park on the way home and Z went to his friend's house to ask him if he wanted to come out to play. We ended up chatting with his parents for ages.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

This Boy

This boy looks so grown up in this photo. He had just been for a haircut and I always think it ages him when he has his hair chopped off...and that's the reason why I won't cut my hair short!

This boy is smart. Super smart. He's articulate and polite but he can be silly and laughs so hard, until tears roll down his cheeks, if you so much as mention the word fart around him. He gets that from my late Gran. 

This boy is confident and loyal. He has a really close circle of friends. They all get on so well and their different personalities make for an amazing little group of people. I know that in 10, 20 even 30 years time, they will still be friends, no matter where they are in the world. 

This boy loves to read. He will read a book in a day if he gets the chance. I really hope his love for reading stays with him his whole life. 

Z has settled back in to the school routine and seems to be liking his new class and teachers. He's delighted to have all of his friends in the class with him too. I think this is going to be another great school year for him.