We were all nervous about the first day but Jacob was very upbeat and interested in going. We had done several things to prepare for this day.
First, we filled out a ton of paperwork. In addition to the school's application (which included getting a signature from the parish priest to prove we were in regular attendance), we also had to fill out forms (both physical and on-line) for the local borough council. Most schools are funded through government sources so the application process involves the local government. The form asked for our top four preferences and also the reasons for those preferences. We had only gone to see two schools (both Catholic parish schools) so I listed just those. Luckily, we got into our first choice.
Second, we went in July to a story-time hosted at the school so Jacob could meet his teachers and his "special friend"--a fifth-year student who is now a sixth-year and will be helping Jacob learn the ropes at the school. That includes eating lunch with him and hanging out on the playground. At least, that's what Jacob said they did on their first day of school. She also gave him a wonderful hand-made puppet of a lion with a story about him.
As a side note, the weather was pretty spectacular that July day, so most of the parents who came to pick up their kids just hung out in the school yard with their children rather than rush off home. It seemed odd to me because I remember just rushing off whenever I got out of school in America. Though maybe they had siblings in higher grades and they were waiting for them to finish school.
Third, we went to the local school uniform shop and spent almost £100 on clothes for the boy. Figuring he might be a little messy, I decided to get multiples of the polo shirt and the jumper (that's a sweat shirt for Americans) with the school's logo. They also had a warmer coat, presumably for November to March, that we picked up. And he needed trousers and P.E. clothes as well. We also bought some stuff at other local stores to fill out his kit. Everything needed his name in it, in case there was any clothing mix up at school. We spent a frantic night figuring out how to iron on the iron-on labels we bought from the uniform shop. He does look pretty good in his outfit.
|Jacob wants to get to school so fast, he's blurry|
|Checking out how blurry he is on the Auntie's camera|
In case you are wondering, yes he did wear shoes to school (though they don't sell shoes with the school logo on them). We packed his lunch and a water bottle. We packed gym clothes (which apparently he didn't use on the first day, at least according to him). We took him to school at 8:50, only to discover the children were supposed to come at 10 for the first day for reception! We went back to the car, found a little snack at a nearby bakery to kill some time, and then returned to the school.
This time we were able to walk in with Jacob. We found the spot where his backpack goes. We found the spot for his coat and gym clothes. We weren't really sure where his lunch box should go but we had left it in the backpack anyway, so no worries. In his main classroom, they had a big computer screen on and one of the teachers was sorting the names of who had packed lunches and who had school dinners. Each child's name was on a virtual balloon and the balloons were dragged to appropriately labeled clouds. It was a fun way to get some needed info and to match up student's names and faces. One balloon said "Jacob S." so there is another Jacob in his class.
Once that was sorted, we left him. My wife was welling up with the sort of tears you cry at weddings, which she accused me of knowing nothing of. I have to admit, I don't cry at weddings. I can imagine what she's referring to. Maybe someday my horizons will expand.
Lucy also had her first day of preschool or "nursery" as they call it here. Her school is right next to Jacob's, which is very convenient for me. She is on a 9 to 12 Monday through Friday program. She does not have a uniform and does not have to pack a lunch. She is a bit jealous at not having her own lunch box. We may break down and buy her one if she insists. We can always use it next year.
|Lucy packed her backpack with stickers and other "show and tell" items|
She also had a good day, playing outside and doing various crafty things inside. She says she had a snack of apples and crumpets. When I asked how many she'd eaten, she said about 20 crumpets. Also, she said that the other kids yelled at her. When I asked why, she said she wasn't helping to clean up. When I asked why she wasn't helping to clean up, she said she was too tired to help. I think the story is fabricated, since the lady in her classroom said that Lucy was fine and there were no worries.
So the school adventure begins in our household. As we were walking away from Lucy's school, I told her that she would be starting at Jacob's school next year. She was excited about that. She wanted to go shopping to the uniform store and to get a lunchbox. I wonder if she'll be able to wait a whole year.