Riverview Infant School

The other day I went for my first meeting at the infant school where the girl’s will be starting in September, a very exciting time and an extremely important one too. I recently shared with you my thoughts on keeping twins together or not but whilst I sat listening to the Head Mistress discuss uniform requirements, the induction process and introduce us to our class teachers it hadn’t occurred to me about getting the girls ready for school.

There are so many things we, as parents, do that we take for granted as part of our daily life that I hadn’t stopped to think about the Headmistresses top tips all of which make perfect sense for an easier passage from preschool to Big School.

I am very lucky and honoured to host a guest post from our head Nicole Caulfield and I hope it will help many others out their get their little ones ready for the grand occasion

Top Tips for getting your child ready for Primary School

Most of our children attend a Nursery/ Pre-school, all of whom offer valuable social and learning opportunities.

However now that your child is starting school we expect a degree of independence from them, particularly with 120 children joining us in September.

Whilst there are a number of adults to help and support the children in school the ratio is far less than in Nursery schools.  In schools there only has to legally be 2 adults: 30 children. Whilst here at Riverview we have additional adults in the Foundation Stage there are still things that you may want to work on before your child starts with us, particularly if your child currently finds things tricky:

Toileting

Unfortunately we cannot wipe bottoms. Whilst staff are happy to encourage children to do it themselves it is preferable if they are independent as our toilets are separate to our classrooms. Sometimes even shouting ‘finished’ from the confines of the cubicle doesn’t immediately attract attention.

If your child has a special medical condition we need to arrange a ‘Care Plan’ to support their needs.

Dressing & undressing

Taking clothes off independently & putting them back on in the right order!! This can be particularly tricky for some children especially during the first PE sessions.

Children are generally really good at taking their clothes off but putting them tidy ready to put on again can take time.

The trickier time comes when dressing; which clothes go on in the right order? We have a number of children who put their socks and shoes on first and then try to get their trousers on. This generally leads to the hopping around the classroom scenario.

Sometimes we get the superman pants and generally everyone gets their clothes on back to front and inside out, or they forget to put them back on at all!

We try and make life easier with our uniform policy, (the buttons on polo shirts are easier for small fingers than shirts) and with shoes, Velcro is easier than laces.

If you think your child may have problems, have a practise over the holiday period.

Knives & forks

This is particularly relevant if your child is going to be having one of our fabulous cooked lunches. Lunchtime here is very busy and whilst our platoon of Mid-Day Supervisors help children cut up food, they are unable to sit with them or feed them and spaghetti bolognaise is very messy when eaten with fingers! If your child is just used to finger food then you may want to practise with a knife and fork, spoons are ok to start with.

Blowing noses

At some point your child will get a cold (probably amongst other childhood illnesses) and the candles of snot will appear running from their nose, generally to be randomly licked away or wiped on the sleeve of a sweatshirt leaving that tell-tale snail trail. In our experience the knack is to practise actually blowing the contents of the nasal cavities into a tissue, rather than smacking their lips together.

Manners

This may appear old fashioned but for us a simple ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ goes a long way.

Some excellent tips I think you’ll agree, I’ve decided we’re going to be setting up a reward chart over the next few months with stars and prizes for each obstacle tackled to make it fun and hopefully master all of the challenges above ;)

 

Maria Tumolo is an expat mom, originally from Trinidad, West Indies. She now lives in Greater London, England. Her blog Tiger Tales is about her son Angelo. He’s part Chinese-Italian part Black West Indian. He looks totally like his dad, who’s Chinese-Italian. she says ‘The blog is named in honour of Angelo, as he was born in 2010 the Chinese Year of the Tiger. Some of our experiences are sometimes funny or just plain annoying. I write about my everyday life as a first-time ‘older mom’, how I engage him in early years learning chart some of his milestones, as well as writing product reviews from time to time. Baby number two is due this winter in the Year of the Dragon, so we have many interesting years ahead.’

You can Tweet with MsXpat and find her on Facebook too

Tiger Tales

In my youth, I never thought I’d become a mom. I love my freedom too much. I thought motherhood meant being ‘tied down’.  I reckon being the eldest daughter for my mum had something to do with my perception of motherhood, I assisted her wherever possible looking after my siblings, not always willing I dare say. When I did consider becoming a parent, in passing, I always saw myself a bit like Captain von Trapp! I’d blow my figurative whistle and the young ones would fall into place.  What a laugh right?

Oh! How I’ve been humbled, since becoming a mother. I heard once… can’t remember where (I was still in my PND haze) that you get the child you deserve.  Not a comforting thought for parents off children with special needs or terminal illness. However, for me that meant I was being punished and experiencing some sort of poetic justice for being a demanding child myself. Always sick or up to mischief. Mother laughs at my mothering trials, now. My son showed me VERY early on that submission was not a word he understood.  Getting to know and understand my son meant I’ve had to practice what I call ‘child-lead mothering’.

Tiger Tales

 

This generation of children seem to be leading the generations before them. Everywhere you read and hear about baby-Led breast feeding, baby-Led weaning, and child-Led play. Seems to me all this amounts to child-Led mothering/parenting.  To me, child-Led mothering means that I’m taking cues from my son on what’s the best way to raise him. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m allowing my son to run riot, far from it. I’ve attended a few courses to help me be a better mom because I want to raise a child who will be a credit his family and society.

However, teaching and disciplining is not a one size fit all, as I’ve come to learn… from my son. At first, Hubby and I began replicating the parenting methods that were used on us. Soon, our son soon began to rebel. Passing phase? Toddler tantrum, perhaps?  But I saw from the courage and determination in his eyes that this was not the way to go. He’s no military recruit after all. The distant strict ‘Do as I say not as I do’, would not cut it for him. I feel that he’s demanding more of us. He wants all of our attention and all the affection we have to offer. When it comes to discipline, I’ve come to learn that calm, patience and firm voice accompanied by consistency works best.

tiger tales

To say that my world was been turned upside down inside out when I became a mother is putting it mildly. Rather than say that my son broke me, I’ll say he humbled me. I believe I’ve learnt the true meaning of unconditional love. Sometimes I look at my son and I feel so much love, it’s as though my heart would burst. So, I’ve accepted his challenge to be the best mother that I can be. I follow his lead and I don’t feel like a failure in the least. We have our challenges but he makes me proud every day because he’s clever, funny, vibrant and charming. Surely, I can’t be doing too badly… time will tell.

If I’d had a calm quiet child, I have no doubt I’d be a different mother. I’d be more rested, more ‘together’, perhaps a bit less hands-on. Most likely I’d still be working full-time but without a doubt, life would be less FUN. Instead I have a son with the strength and energy for two toddlers or more. He loves having my attention 24/7 and hardly plays on his own. As a result, I started a blog; I left my job, and began attending courses that would empower me as a parent. I dedicate my day to doing things that are fun and educational with him in between all of this I’m learning to drive and I attend a PND support group. All these things I do because I’ve taken up the gauntlet my son threw down for me within the first few months of his life. Now, I’m a better mum for it. Not everyone will agree with my way of thinking. I get that and it’s OK.  As I always say, to each his own. All we do is our best and hope that that’s enough.

Maria writes at Feisty Tapas, she’s Spanish, married to an Englishman and they have one child. She is a WAHM, translates, writes freelance and a myriad of other feathers in her cap but it’s all getting a bit too  exhausting – read on and let me know if you see yourself in this post. Tweet Maria too she loves to chat! Or find her on Facebook
feisty tapasSince always I have been one to take everything on, whatever it is. I am totally aware that, if I put my mind to it, I can do it. I may not be the best at everything or at anything but, if I can do it, I do it.

Then I became a mum, the whole world turned on its head, nothing went as I expected and things… well, things changed when I least needed even more change.

I have carried on as always, I have kept on doing everything, I went back to working from home but now in the company of a child and I have kept on doing housewifey things (I must confess that I am quite rubbish at being a domestic goddess). 

I even started a blog for goodness sake (a blog can serve multiple purposes: call for help, psychotherapy, support network, friendship, it truly is endless in its giving). 

We have thought about childcare but, in between the fact that I know I can carry on and the fact that I’m not one to throw in the towel, why have childcare? And the fact that it involves research (I tend to be quite detailed in my research, it’s part of my job): find a place, ask for an appointment, etc. It just ends up not happening when I realise that I just can’t bring myself to take a decision, what if something goes wrong? Then something does go wrong elsewhere, even if it is in Qatar and I think no way! But I so need some help with LittleT.

Basically, with me, the fact that I can do everything doesn’t mean that I want to and that there aren’t certain things that I dread doing and put off because they ultimately scare the crap out of me.

Today I am exhausted, today I told my husband on the phone that we need to find childcare. Today I should be…

feisty tapas

 

This is as far as I got writing this post the other week, probably 2 weeks ago, because this is one of the things that really scare the crap out of me. These are things that I try to keep inside of me until one day I explode.

I decided to retake the post and, in the aim of research, I googled the title I had chosen, The Supermum Syndrome. Do you know what? It turns out I am not the only one suffering this ailment. Hooray for the Sisterhood of Mum.

Then I watched the film I don’t know how she does it on DVD and it all got me thinking: why do we feel the need to be supermum?

I started thinking of all of this because there have been lots of things getting me down lately:

– A really energetic child who I am constantly trying to get more focussed

– Family demands of the Spanish kind (imagine family pressure and then multiply it by 1,000). Let’s not go there.

– Clients not taking no for an answer, the most difficult of clients who seem to have forgotten how to do their jobs, I swear a year ago they used to be quite efficient. I have a theory: either a) everyone has forgotten that the economy isn’t that buoyant at the moment and they really shouldn’t rest on their laurels or b) they are just spreading themselves too thin. The truth is that, if I say no to a client, I do mean it and in fact I say it for their own good, because I know I am not going to do the quality of work they are used to receiving from me. They actually know this, they have been working with me for years. I may earn less that way but it keeps my reputation where I have had it for many years and it means I haven’t missed a single milestone of my child’s life so far, I was the one sitting at the kitchen table recording her first steps on video when I saw the determination in her eyes.

On the other hand, it was hard enough to make people realise before I became a mother that when I say “I work from home” I literally mean “I WORK from home”, just like other people earn their livings at more traditional places of work, home is my place of work, yes it is, but now I have to put up with the “oh so you have a hobby “looks (and I don’t even mean my blog, i.e. the thing that is keeping me sane).

feisty tapas bubble

What I don’t understand: with so many of us working from home, is this lifestyle so difficult to comprehend? And no, it’s not a hobby, it’s my career and profession (as well as a whole chunk of who I am and something I am extremely proud of. Talk to any stay at home mum: even if society doesn’t think so, they work really hard. Looking after a child, keeping them entertained and trying to do housework with them around your legs is indeed hard work, running a household in this economy is hard work, trying to save money when the prices of everything are on the increase, meal planning (of the kind that the family will eat and a long etcetera).

I have to add that it is not just mums who juggle, just the other day I got talking in the playground to a father who turned out to be Spanish and married to an Englishwoman. She works, he looks after their 2 year old and he seemed to be feeling a bit overstretched.

All in all, for me it is a relief to know that I am not the only one feeling like this, going through this.

What is it that makes us keep pushing on? Why do we think that we need to show to ourselves and the rest of the world that we really can cope with everything? Add another ball to my juggling act? Oh, go on, why not? What is one more ball after all, right?

I do wonder: does this Supermum Syndrome affect people equally whatever stage they are at in their lives? i.e. mums in their teens, early or late twenties, thirties and fourties?

Mari, did you have the same expectation of yourself with your first pregnancies and with the twins? Did you feel the world expected more or less of you? Or is it perhaps a 21st century syndrome?

twin sistersFour years!

Almost four years have passed since our twins came into the world and we’ve already chosen (and been accepted) at their first school. We have our first meeting on the 21st June where we’ll be told about the induction process, uniform and various other bits of information that make up the schools here in the UK.

In fact once accepted into the school of our choice there was a form (the first of many I imagine) to fill in and on it a small box where we could place any particular good friends name’s in the hope they may find each other in the same class. Unanimous decision for our girls was Hannah their ‘best friend.’ They met her on the first day of preschool last autumn and all three have stuck steadfast ever since. Which is lovely as if there is one thing I would want to wish my girls it’s good, strong, lifelong friendships which are hard to come by and harder still to keep.

It’s also at this stage of the process that we have to decide whether to keep the twins together or request they are separated into different classes.

It’s one of those decisions that you don’t take lightly and you are aware that either way you choose you could still be making the wrong decision.

My Paul is a twin and his mum took the decision to have them separated once they started school. This was because Paul’s brother would do all the talking for him and Paul was perfectly happy to not bother trying at conversation himself and lazily sit back and let his brother take over. Vera put her foot down and decided the boy needed to speak up for himself. Her decision worked for her and she was very pleased with the outcome.

In fact both Paul and I were thinking of carrying long in Vera’s footsteps and separating the girls at school to allow them both the freedom of singleton children. They could make their own friends, have their own teachers and start making their own life experiences but when it was time for us to look at our situation we saw that our twins were in fact very, very close. They would lean on each other and worked well as a team. One of the twins was also shyer than her sister and I felt she would struggle on her own even more so if her sister ‘got’ the best friend in her class too.

Could you imagine it? It would be a disaster. One of my girls would feel left out even if she did know plenty of other girls.

Mothers day card

I also drew on my past experience where Thomas at the age of 6, moving from scuola materna to scuola elementari, was separated from ALL of the friends he’d made and had played with for the previous three years. The decision was made based on where the children lived and I, too young to know any better, didn’t question the decision. I wish I had, I’ve wished it over and over again. Tommy found himself in a class of mainly girls which at 6 years old was not good. They weren’t interested in Batman or Ninja Turtles and Tommy there and then went right off school.

Don’t misunderstand me, he made lifelong friends in that class, many of his girl classmates are still in touch with him today but my burning question is ‘Would Thomas have done better at school if he’d been with his friends and in a more competitive situation?’ I think yes. A little friendly competitiveness goes a long way.

So we’re keeping our twins together for infant school, a decision that can be reviewed when the time comes to move up to junior school but in the meantime it does mean I can do parent’s evening in one go without having to queue up twice and the girls will continue to bond and strengthen their relationship too. It will also allow them to grow a little more and have maybe more input in the decision when the time comes.

playing with water