So, my Son has left his primary school. There were the usual parties and end of year / leavers assemblies, which were all lovely. But they never quite capture all the memories for every person.
My little man did brilliantly at primary school, better than any of us could have imagined when he first, nervously, started at nursery school 8 years ago. He is not sporty, he wasn’t naughty and he wasn’t wildly funny or outgoing, so, inevitably he didn’t feature very highly in the montages of pictures and slides and sketches which were shown and performed at the leavers party and assembly.
So, to show how far he’s come and how proud we are of him I thought I’d create my own personal collection of memories and tributes for my fantastic young man.
In January 2003 he started nursery. At that time a diagnosis of aspergers syndrome was not anywhere on the radar. We knew he didn’t want to play with other children, but it was assumed that that reluctance was related to his visual impairment and that with strategies in place he would learn these skills at nursery.
I can remember the nursery teacher visiting us at home to find out about his interests and what he liked to do. At that time my boy loved buses, the moon and the colour red. He only wanted to wear red clothes (school uniform was blue), he would only write with a red crayon or pencil and would grab from other children if they dared to use the red pens. But he could count, he could sort, he could make patterns and recognise letters and numbers. He chatted away happily to the teachers and learned to play along-side other children, if not actually with them.
He took part in the sports days and they did a sponsored pedal push for childline. A photographer from the local paper came along and my little man was in the front of picture they printed. We still have a very faded copy stuck on our kitchen cupboard.
I can remember the very first nativity play, in which B proudly played the part of a ‘camel feeder’ for which the costume was brown clothing accessorised with a bucket from our toy cleaning set!
Luckily the transition to reception and proper full-time school was quite easy as this was a small primary school and B got a place in the reception class at the school where he’d been at nursery. He was very familiar with the classroom and teacher and with most of the children.
Reception was a mixed bag. B was desperate to learn to read. He knew all his letters. They had ‘key words’ to learn in sets. B went through them at pretty much one set per week, and had learnt to read all of them by Easter of his Reception year, the aim was that children should have learnt these key words by the end of Year 1. He was generally happy and beginning to mix more with the other children. He had made friends, we had children home for tea and B was going back to play with other children.
There was a second nativity play, where B graduated to the dizzy heights of playing a shepherd.
There was another pedal push
So we moved into year 1. Year one is really the start of the formal school curriculum, as such it was much more structured, there was more sitting at tables and formal learning, which suited B. He continued to do well with his school work and earned a certificate for playing in the Christmas Play ‘Tea Towels and Tinsel’. Year 1 was a year of several trips, to the National Gallery, ‘The White House’ (a small local museum) and, his favourite, The Look Out Discovery Centre in Berkshire. Year one was also one of the few years where B managed to get a 100% attendance certificate for one term. This is something that he always wanted to get, but usually missed out on because of regular hospital trips. If it hadn’t been for hospital appointments there would have been several more of these over the years.
The really big next milestone for B was Year 3, aged 7 – 8. He still didn’t really like play times. His teacher in year 3 encouraged him to join a group of children whom she was working with to lead playground games to give playtimes a bit of structure. B loved it. He joined in, it gave him a structure and something to enjoy. His confidence grew and he got to go out a few times to other schools to take part in special workshops with children from other schools. I was so pleased and proud of him for the progress he made by joining in with that group.
He also discovered music. None of us in our family are particularly musical. I love singing, but unfortunately my voice isn’t one that many people want to listen to The music teacher at school was so enthusiastic, she arranged for the whole class to learn the recorder in Year 2 and they learned the flute in year 3. B loved the recorder and wasn’t keen on the flute, but spent ages and ages asking and asking if he could learn the clarinet. I have to confess, I wasn’t convinced it was a good idea, but in the end we agreed to give it a try. I’m glad we did, B has really enjoyed it. He passed his grade 1 exam and now plays in the local training band on Saturdays.
In year 5 B began to shine as the class star mathematician. In years 3, 4, 5 and 6 he came 3rd every year in the class General Knowledge quiz. Unfortunately he didn’t ever make the school team because he didn’t come first or second, but he was one of the few who came in the top 3 each year and I think that deserves recognition and celebration.
In Year 5 B also became one of the school library helpers, which, again gave him a bit of structure at playtimes and a chance to start developing some responsibility. There were two particular highlights from year 5. Bread making, where they all had to choose a different type of bread to make. B chose Pain au chocolate. I love making bread and different types of baking so I went into school to help. It was great fun and the children made a variety of really interesting breads, which all tasted yummy. Year 5 was also the year they dressed up as Victorians and went to ‘the ragged school’. where they learned a bit about what it was like to be at school in the 19th Century. B had been told that anyone who was left-handed would have to write with their right hand or they would get caned. Luckily he seemed to think this would be quite amusing as he and his best friend are both left-handed. So they were quite disappointed when they came home and had been told they would be forgiven for writing with their left hands.
For B the highlight of primary school was the trip to Osmington Bay in Year 6 when they went away for 4 nights and took part in all sorts of activities.
Year 6 also saw him win the class certificate for best improvement in Literacy and he took part in a national Maths test for the most able Primary Maths students. Not only was he chosen as one of the few in his class to take part in this test, but he received a silver certificate. Which I think he should be very proud of.
So the end of the school year is traditionally celebrated by parents and children with a picnic on our school field after school finishes on the last day of term. Over the years this event has been enjoyed by children and parents alike. Whilst we bask in glorious sunshine eating and drinking the children run about and play. One of the biggest memories for B will always be the mulberry trees. The mulberries are usually ripe at that time in July and over the years the boys had developed the habit of throwing the berries at each other and generally making an incredible mess. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this mess, but after the first time I always made sure that on the last day of term B was wearing his oldest, most stained and grubby school polo shirt as it would be fit only for the bin by the end of the picnic.
So, it was, with a little disappointment, this year, not only that the picnic was cut short by the inevitable torrential downpour that has been an all too common feature of this summer, but that the general level of rain and lack of sunshine has meant that the mulberries were all still green, so no final mulberry throwing was to happen.
All in all, the last 8 years have been amazing. I would never have believed that the little boy who wouldn’t talk to other children when he started nursery at 3 years old, would turn into a happy, confident, clarinet playing maths champion who is about to start the local mainstream High School with his friends.
Well done B and thank you to school, to all the teachers and support staff who have helped you get where you are today.
My beautiful boy
Thank you for reading about my little man’s fab acheivements. What are your memories of your children’s time at school or nursery?