Do you remember your first day of school?
My dad does;
It took place a (politely unspecified) number of decades ago. He found himself, a child of four, surrounded by the mountains of the Lake District, dressed in a new grey cap and tucked-in uniform, standing on the steps of Burton Morewood Primary School. Snowflakes swirled around him as a confusing question swirled round his head; how do I get in?
He raised his hands repeatedly to the knocker and tapped it lightly against the wood. But no one answered. No one heard him. The register was taken inside and his name was called by his teacher-to-be. But my dad wasn’t there to answer.
He stood and waited on those steps, beneath the mountains and the snow, for the best part of 3 hours until the bell rang out for break. By that time his feet and his hands were numb with cold, his bottom lip was blue and he’d given up knocking on the door.
But with the bell, came the sound of excited children eager for play. Their hurried footsteps and chatter grew louder and louder, and finally, at long last, the door to Burton Morewood Primary School burst open before them… and, unfortunately, for the little boy on the steps, into him!
My dad was knocked clean off his feet and into the air. He soared through the sky like a jack-out-of-the-box (or so I’m told) and landed with a snow-padded “splat” on the ground.
I don’t think he remembers much else of his first day at school, but it would be no small understatement to say that, the morning at least, didn’t quite match up to what his parents had told him it would be.
Where his parents (or any other responsible adults) were during this time, I confess I don’t know; the best explanation I have been able to glean from him is that it was "just the way the Lake District was in those days."
But that is not the point.
The point is that the ‘fist day of school’ is an experience we all have, but an experience that can vary drastically.
Looking back, my dad laughs at his four year old self. Looking back, we might laugh at ours, or we might not.
Burton Morewood’s slogan proclaims the following;
'They come this way only once, we should scatter their path through our school with quality experiences.'
And I think there is something of real truth in this.
School is such an important part of life. It happens only once, but it leads us through childhood to the other side. It leads us into our first taste of adulthood and then lets us go.
What first imprint of school do we want to leave on the next generation?
What do we want our children to look back on and remember?
We have a chance to shape and bring colour to their very first school memory.
Could we take them for a special treat ice cream or brownie after the day is finished?
Could we ask them to show us round their new class and introduce us to their new friends (although we have probably seen it already and met the respective parents)?
Could we pack some special notes or treats in their lunch box for that first week to let them know we are thinking of them?
I’m sure it will look different for each child, but the opportunity is the same.
Take a moment now to think.
What is your child’s favourite activity, toy or food?
What really brings them alive?
Do they thrive having one on one time with you? Will they need lots of hugs?
How can you bring that thing into their first day of school, and begin to shape the foundation blocks of their experience for the next 15 years of their life?
We’re all in the same boat here, but we've also all been in the same boat that our children are now, that first day of school.
And let's face it, it's not the end of the world if the first day has tears in it, there are bound to be up and down moments, but let’s sale the waves together, and embrace the new adventure head on!
Post about your experience if you have anything to feed back following on from this to the rest of us below! We'd really like to hear from you!
Over and out for now.