The End of Junior Infants

It is June and Gigi is almost finished her Junior Infants year- her first year at school. She is five years old, above average height and has curly, curly hair. She is growing.Picture_20190208_204605179

Talk about preparing your child, I wasn’t right myself until Christmas about the whole thing. I attempted to address the worry in Starting School and Social Media but I actually came nowhere expressing my fears in the blog. It was too hard.

Nothing prepares you for your first child starting school. You can buy all the books, plan lunches and uniforms but watching their little baby face as they first face the classroom is a wrench.

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(Nothing prepares you for your second child starting school like your first one starting, so that’s a plus.)

It has been emotional. Scary. Cute. Precious. Anxiety inducing. Relieving. Fast. I am pretty certain it was all those things for Gigi too, which is even more harrowing to consider. Now it’s over.

No longer in the ‘baby’ class- another milestone to pass.

She has a lovely school. Small, rural and of the Cheers variety as every blade of grass seems to know your name on the school run. (Apologies smiling parent who seems to be totally in control and runs an efficient home- I promise to learn your name).

I will not miss the excessive homework (and I know she won’t either) as we have summer break. It has been a bone of contention with us. The reason Gigi and I squabbled most evenings was phonics related and I stand by my opinion that there was far too much homework assigned to five year olds in Gigi’s school. I live in hope that she reaps the promised benefits and I remain blindly trusting in the new methods of teaching reading as there is little other choice. (The fact I am a homework giving English teacher is not irony lost on me, oh no, you can sure of that).

I already miss the cuteness of first pinafores, zipping up the front with a little navy metallic heart. Putting my flat palm over her heart, cudding the little girl in front of me. Gigi grew out of those by January. As they became shorter and shorter, I finally gave in and bought the bigger ones. Soon, she will revolt against the pinafore in favour of what is fashionable, joggers, skirts whatever. I will enjoy the adorable while I can.

She loved getting the special new shoes last summer and chose the overly priced, gimmicky Lellie Kellies. Together we coloured in velcro hearts, using the magic pen to change the colours from black to pink. She will not want those forever. One pair of shoes I do not want to ever give away.

Gigi tried so many sports this year. They had introductions to volleyball, basketball, hockey and gymnastics. They played Gaelic football. She started hurling on Wednesday evenings. Gigi found some of these sports difficult but I love that she keeps playing. Buying her a mouth guard, a hurl, a helmet- every purchase feeling like she was growing even more. Learning how to fit a mouth guard- new skills for Mammy.

I will enjoy a break from the school ‘contact’ which is basically sheet after sheet of yellow letters stuck into Gigi’s homework copy demanding I scrutinise and recall every detail right now. And by god, there were plenty of them. Phoning school seems to be out of bounds unless you call at a very specific time, that only is an option twice per week, so the journal is important. However, I admit to emitting many groans and grumbles this year opening the homework for Gigi to realise there seemed to more for me to do than her (and believe me, she had a lot to do). A one-sided type of contact, I felt, that frustrated a worrier like me. I will enjoy a break from Textaparent too. Just a little time out even though I think the app is good idea- just not both app and paper.

A highlight for Gigi this year was definitely being in a school show which was lovely and inclusive for every student. She enjoyed the preparation, the build up and I think the show itself. I didn’t agree with the idea of letting youngsters wear make up for the show but that’s what happened. (Another occasion in this school year where I felt uncomfortable. Should a five year old have a face of make up even for fun? I don’t mean face paint, I mean blush, foundation and lipstick. Why?? ). I chose not to let her have a full face of make up. It just didn’t go with her Moana pyjamas and white teddy costume combo. Or my conscience.

We dealt with the challenges of forming friendships for a socially quiet child. This was very tough for us all but I think Gigi is doing well. Birthday parties were the hardest. I thought labour was painful until I witnessed my beloved child sit alone at a party for several hours and was powerless to help her, as she tried fruitlessly to get involved. Again, this has improved. Parties became less tough and more like what they should be – a bludy party- by the end of year.

Watching Gigi happily walking into school beside a classmate is lovely. Her smile at the companiable trot, no looking back is heartening. Gigi’s teacher is a gem. They trust her, respect her and behave angelically for her. Due to her obvious gift at giving comfort and promoting self-esteem in children, I try to work with the homework. She has been wonderful for Gigi.

There have been enormous progresses. There has been stomach churning. Giggles. Tempers (the whole angel at school and devil for your parents is true). She seems happy. She talks a lot about Africa. The Arctic. America. She came first in a local Art competition for a picture of us lot. There has been progress.

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It is over. She is now a Senior. Or Seenyur as she would say herself. One who believes in fairies and thinks Grandads are old because they lived in the Time of the Unicorns. This time next year Betsy will start school and I wonder will it feel different?

 

28 thoughts on “The End of Junior Infants

      1. Sorry to make you sad- but I know what you mean. Gaelic football is football wjth rules that allow handling a ball, running with it but you must kick or bounce every 3 steps, and you can score goals or over the bar points. Goal worth 3 points. National sport around here alongside hurling🙄

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  1. Oh wow, such changes. What a year of transition–I can understand why it was hard, at times. And it sounds like she made leaps and bounds of growth. Congrats to you all! Maybe the difference between girls and boys–or because my boys came in a pair–but I was so, so happy when the boys headed off to kindergarten at 5. I was so ready. I did cry, of course, but then it was a tiny school with a class of 8 only, so much like the pre-K they’d done before that. The whole-day thing was the hardest transition. It’s too tiring for 5 year olds, I think. We had more homework in 1st grade. That contact sheet and everything–sounds very rigorous! I’ve given my boys workbooks this summer, so they don’t slide too much, and last night I was figuring out long division with one of them. Nice summer vacation–ah well, it’s time together when they’re not talking about video games, so that’s a plus.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! It is a major year alright. Both girls slipped into playschool from creche very easily (same building) so this was more full on a result I think. Gigi is on until 2 pm at school but in first class (age 7) it will be 3pm. It is fab if your kids will do work in the summer. Gigi really needs to work on some bits so hopefully I can coax her. Enjoy your summer 😊

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  2. My niece has so much more homework than I ever remember. It’s good to read and do some things with parents, but I feel it’s too much pressure at such a young age, and for the busy parent that just wants some down time to enjoy with little ones while they’re still little!

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  3. This year has really raced hasn’t it.. I can’t believe that my two will soon be year two and year four.. it’s just not right. We have frequent arguements about homework.. I need to build a lighthouse as my 6 year old won’t make it. So many changes and life just flies on by.

    Your sheets of yellow notes do not sound like fun.. lots of school communication. I get more accident reports then anything else. My daughter is very accident prone, though my son had an incident with a fork thrown at him. Kids playing..

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      1. We get phonecalls and reports. I’ve also had her pretending to be ill and had to tell the school to keep her.. bad mummy not wanting her home when she is absolutely fine. Balancing child sickness and work is not always easy.

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  4. A lovely thoughtful post and you’ve all done really well by the sounds of things! It’s hard each time in my opinion but also exciting as you see them change and take on new things! Enjoy the time you have with them 🙂

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