Thursday, 7 February 2013

First Day of Preschool for Our Girl

Today was Lily's highly anticipated first day at Preschool. Her first full-days of schooling - a big ol' milestone for her and for me!

A very proud Preschooler!
(and yes, I should have used a darker coloured marker on the sign, oops)

Now, just to clarify (as I have come to realise things are so different between states in Australia, not to mention countries), preschool in Canberra is the first year of fully government-funded schooling for children around five years old (I think after 30th April  is the requirement for our school year separation in this state). The kids get 2.5 days a week at the local primary school, though thankfully the preschool is usually a little separate building to the side of the main school so the teenies don't get trampled by the big  kids! It is a year of play-based learning and an introduction to the world of school and teachers and all that entails. It's a full school day (9am to 3pm) and Lily will be going two days one week, three days the alternate week (rather than a half day every week, which is a bit more too-ing and fro-ing than a mama with a newborn wants to be doing, so I'm super grateful they have that option!). I still get confused about what this year is called in other states - I think it could be called Kindy in Queensland?? (I grew up there and that's my vague recollection, lol) I recently found out NSW doesn't have any public schooling until the full-time kindergarten year! Amazing how different it is in each state... not to mention the difference in school age cut-offs... but anyway I am off on tangents now and that's a whole other discussion!

Where was I?

Oh yes, my little girl - off to school!

With a newborn in the family, I have hardly had time to focus on this big transition. For example, after dropping her off this morning I stumbled upon some paperwork and realised I had not purchased ANY of the stationary supplies they were supposed to bring along. Oops. Bad mama... and not so good start to the school year, but oh well. I am playing the 'newborn' card, ok!

Anyway, to back track.... I wondered how she would go in a new school, away from the home for a full day and so on. All summer she has been talking mostly excitedly about it, though I think she was a little nervous not knowing anyone there (it's our new in-area school since we moved). We spent the night before picking out her first day outfit, packing her school bag with hat, sunscreen and so forth and chatting about the day to come. I find there is a fine line with my girl between preparing her by talking upcoming transitions through, and focusing on them and building them up too much so that she gets overly emotional about it. So we chatted a bit about what a special year it was to be, going to this big girl school but didn't overplay it! She was excited though certainly there were glimpses of nervousness. Last night she admitted her worry was that I would not come and pick her up and that the teacher would not have my phone number to call me!!! Poor kid. I assured her that not only did the teacher have my number and that I would never forget to pick her up (I hope!!!) but that my phone number was written in her school bag if she ever needed it!

She started the day bounding into our room this morning and announcing 'There are two things I love - cuddling my baby brother and going to preschool!!!' Well, that sounds like a good start!

I was taking Lily's obligatory 'first day' pic when Eli came barreling out of the
house bleating 'What 'bout me!? What 'bout me?!'. Turns out he thought he
was going to school too and Lily's mini-lunch bag was his new school bag.
Poor kid, he was dying to go with his sister!  In the least we could let him be
in a photo!

My two big kids... and to think it used to just be these two!

Love this sweet girl, so proud of her for diving into a new school...
I admit I missed her during this long school day!

Trying to be brave (both mother and daughter!)

Her protective and doting Daddy was the most emotional one about the big step it seemed! Awww, so cute. So this morning the whole family (yes, all FIVE of us) piled in the car to take her on her first day... though we didn't want to make a scene so Mark, Miles and Eli hung out in the playground outside while I took her into class. Her Daddy just wanted to keep an eye on his little girl heading off to school!

In the classroom she giddily said hello to the teacher and chose the drawing table as her first activity (they do table time activities to start the day). I let her get settled, then I decided I should make a swift exit. She cheerfully and distractedly said goodbye to me, but then as I started to go I could see her little eyes looking around like 'Ummm, now what do I do here?!' I knew there was a tipping point she was teetering on (copious weeping on the other side), so quickly introduced her to another little girl and at that point the teacher came to chat to her (distract!). I decisively cut the apron strings which were pulling me to linger by her for the rest of her life the day and exited the room. Of course, Mark and I peered through the window as we left and she saw us and gave a huge happy grin and wave. With a sigh of relief, and only a few tears welling in our eyes, we left.

She could have lost it but she chose to be brave and excited. You go, girl!

Straight into the action at school! She drew me some flowers and an 'M' for Mummy :)

School bag on the hook. Girl busy with new friends. Time to leave her to it!

After a strangely quiet day (wow, that girl's chatter usually fills up the entire house), Mark eagerly went to pick her up. She came home grinning from ear to ear and gave me a huge delicious hug. The most amazing thing was her little brother Eli. All day he had been asking when we were going to pick her up and seemed quite lost without his playmate. When she came home, he just started giggling and laughing almost hysterically and then Mark and I noticed he was also crying - tears of joy and emotion at seeing his sister again, I guess?? It was so weird/sweet- he just seemed truly overcome with happiness that she was home!! Aw, little dude, he loves hanging out with  her so much, he will really miss her a lot.

Another sweet moment was when Lily told me about how another little girl was crying that day and Lily tried to 'make her happy again' and also got the teacher to check on her. We had talked about looking out for other kids who seemed lonely or sad, so I was thrilled to hear she had looked after a new little friend.

After a bit of downtime after her huge day, we headed out that evening for an early-bird pizza dinner at our local Italian restaurant - which was Lily's choice. We wanted to do something special to celebrate her first day of school and it was a really fun time dining out as a Party of Five! Miles just chilled in his capsule, but I think he enjoyed it, haha, and I know the older kids sure did, wolfing down their delicious pizzas!

Celebrating the first day of school at La Piazza. Miles was very excited about his first time dining out!

She was impressed!!

A very big day. Another one to come tomorrow and many more afterwards. Our little girl, an official preschooler - so grown up and ready to venture a little further from our nest...

Love my little birdie!

PS As it's taken me a while to post this I can update on the second day - which I was curious about as it can often be tougher once they know what's in store! She was happy and excited to go but when I was about to leave she suddenly said worriedly 'I don't want you to go, I don't want to stay here'. A new little friend piped up 'But we are gonna play!' and she just broke into a grin and said happily 'Oh yeah!! Ok!!' and that was that. All good!

Because every blog post needs a cute newborn shot included!
Those arm rolls. *swoon*


  1. Loved this massive post from you :)
    Good explainationa at the beginning. It sure is confusing here in Australia. My NSW friends can't believe that we get free Pre-school here. Most of my NSW friends end up keeping their kids in daycare as a result. We are very lucky here in ACT!

    I love the 'trying to be brave' shot. So eautiful and really sums up the start to the day. Lily did so well and I agree you should be so proud of her for diving in, especially when everything was so new. I can't help but marvel at how well Finn coped, seeing that he is a bit of a worrier in nature. His confidence in such a new environment, where he knew NO ONE blew me away!

    What a big day for your little girl, but she did it! Well done Lily!

    Awww little Eli. Harper was the same. It was quite sad to see her missing Finn SO MUCH. Much more than I though she would :(

    I loved reading about Lily's day. Thank you for sharing. xxx

  2. Firstly - the Queensland situation re schooling is: 'Kindergarten' is for children who turn 4 by the 30th of June that year. It is not (usually) in a school and is often alternate 2/3 day weeks or can be offered as part of a long day care program. Kindys run to a government approved program but are not compulsory and parents pay for this service. (T just started in a kindy program 2 days a week even though he is not technically old enough. So very advanced you know ;)
    'Prep' is for children turning 5 by the 30th of June that year. It is in a school, children wear a uniform and keep normal school hours, 5 days a week and it's government funded. It's not compulsory but most children go anyway.
    So odd that every State is different, especially as they roll out the national curriculum for schools but anyway...

    LOVED this blog post, especially those last couple of pictures of you and Lily. She is patting you on the back in the last one! Awwww!
    And of course you wrote so beautifully about the day. I let out a big sob when you said that Eli was crying when she came home. Kate you should be so proud of these caring, feeling GORGEOUS children you are raising. Well done Mama! For an example of how these things sometimes turn out I don't mind telling you that I went away without my older brother when we were about 4 and 5 years old and he sat on the back steps and cried everyday because he missed me and HAD NO-ONE TO BEAT-UP ON. Yep. That pretty much sums up my relationship with my brother. :| Your kids are awesome!

  3. In the United States, it's called kindergarten and is for children who turn 5 by a cutoff date. Unfortunately, here it's usually a full day, 5 days a week (some places may still be 5 half-days though) and it involves a lot of seat work and not as much play time as it did back when I was in K. I think it's great that it's play based where you are. I loved hearing how it works there, and where Tarnya is, in the comments. Very interesting.

    I think having a newborn is a perfectly understandable reason for forgetting some things. He's certainly an adorable reason too! His arm rolls are precious.

    Love the photos of you and Lily, especially the last, b&w one. You're such a pretty mama!

    1. Great read. Loved the pic of you and Lily being brave and the one of Mark and Lily at the restaurant. So many good pics these days, its hard to know which to print up :)


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