Wednesday, 5 September 2007

School days

It was a bit mean, really, the weather yesterday, and today for that matter. Broadly smiling sunshine on all the children as they went back to school after the summer break. For once it wasn’t even windy.

Hannah, who is five, went off happily to Dosbarth 2, feeling a little apprehensive, but only a little. She came home stuffed with confidence and was stroppy for the rest of the day. I was informed, by a mum at school today, that “they get worse as teenagers”. She, a mother of four, had just witnessed Hannah in the playground yelling at Rosie: “No! You can’t come and play, I’m playing with the boys!” before running off to join said boys (one of whom, I kid you not, looks like a mini Boris Johnson!) The game involved a row of children on one side of the fence and a herd of cattle on the other. Best not to ask!

Yesterday Rosie sobbed at not being allowed to go to school in the morning, especially as the lunch menu had promised meatballs. When she actually was allowed into school, at 1pm, she was so overwhelmed by all the attention that she cried again! But she enjoyed her first afternoon and was fine today, apart from sticking out a fat bottom lip for a bit of a wobble when horrid big sister said she couldn’t play. Thankfully she has other friends.

Here in West Wales children go to school in the term which includes their fourth birthday. The two children who started yesterday are not four until December, so they are very young really to be thrust into a school situation. But in Wales it is learning through play, this particular school is bilingual (ie Welsh medium education) and is truly the heart of the community. Staff members include Julie, the friend I walk with (who some will remember as Julieeirios from CL days) and two of the helpers from the village's Cylch Meithrin. The children seem to develop a bond when they have been to Cylch together and some of them Rosie has known since she was a couple of weeks old and going to Cylch Ti a Fi. So school is full of familiar faces and it is a very warm, friendly environment. Yesterday Rosie said she did “hop scotching” and Mrs D, the head teacher, told me today that they had played farms together. But Rosie refused to sing, which I think is the prerogative of a three-year-old.

I’m very proud of my two little girls, but I might have to have a little word with that cheeky monkey Hannah later. I think, though, she is feeling that Rosie has strayed onto her turf. She is going through a jealous phase (hopefully a phase) and complains if Rosie gets anything from toys to praise that she thinks she hasn’t had. We try to be even handed with the pair of them, but Hannah does demand a great deal in a loud voice, whereas Rosie is quieter and more self-sufficient (when she’s not doing her occasional a three-year-old Riverdance-style tantrum). They will have spats over toys and if Daddy is at home he will immediately confiscate the toy. Result? Two crying children. My namby-pamby liberal way is to wait for a gap in hostilities and suggest they find a compromise. Result? Two children happily playing. Daddy says his way is better, because they learn that if they fight over something, it gets taken away, so they learn not to fight. I say this teaches them nothing about conflict resolution and finding compromises. Perhaps they benefit from both approaches. Life, after all, ain’t always fair!


  1. Only having one child myself I suppose I shouldn't really comment but I would definitely say that both approaches would work in their own way - I don't like taking sides! So I won't!

    Crystal xx

  2. Oh yes - I remember all that . . . two children one girl and then a boy. They were always going through one phase, or another. They seem to get on ok now.

    Wow that is young for some of the children to be going to school . . . then again it sounds like a really wonderful school.

  3. My brother always looked out for me and me for him at school. I too went to school at a very young age. I think it was something to do with there being space in class and the fact that my big brother was there. Dont really know if it was an advantage or not!
    My Mum always used to say "wait until your father gets home" if we played up!

  4. My K started today - was OK -ish but not terribly keen on going back! Your system is interesting. 3 sounds so young, but then in these tiny rural schools it's so nuturing isn't it? Here they go to the village pre-school at 2 1/2, then join reception when 4, but it is, thankfully, play centred and very small. Luckily big borther looked out for her today, but not sure how long his generosity will last! I'm with you - I try and get them to figure out a compromise - R, like your other half, goes for the more direct, storm-in approach!

  5. Here they can go to maternalle at 2 and it is one smooth journey into big school from there slow but sure...little ones have a nap after lunch for as long as they sleep, I have known some still being asleep at 4.30 pick up !!It is all play and stories and walks adn fun adn they really do not notice when they transmute into real school childrne!

  6. My two started school at 3 - both loved it - half days for two years and then full days.
    I think your girls are lucky to have reasonable parents who don't agree on everything. I shows them that there is more than one way and that'll be a help to them in 'big' school!


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