Starting School in the middle of a pandemic

As we approach Half Term, I wanted to write about how it’s been for us starting school during a pandemic. So, starting school hasn’t been how I ever imagined it would be. Infact 2020 itself has been a whole different year to how I thought/planned it would be. At the beginning of the year Alyssia was still going to nursery 3 times a week but in March lockdown happened and the nursery could only take on keyworker children therefore Alyssia lost her place and was at home with me for the forseeable until she was due to start school in September. This threw a massive spanner in the works as nursery was helping her so much with starting school and I had no idea how to get her ready for it. I was anxious enough as it was about her starting school and with the pandemic, I had no idea how things were going to pan out / if she was even going to be starting in September. The mother daughter school shopping trips I had planned where she could choose her school bag, school shoes, pick out school uniform etc, didn’t happen and instead everything had to be ordered online. Something that was supposed to be exciting, suddenly turned into us not knowing what was happening. The look around the school that I had planned in my head, didn’t happen and again was a video shared online due to covid restrictions.

We recieved our first letters from the school which had photo’s of three teachers for Alyssia and a letter to say how excited they are to meet her which I thought was lovely. I recieved my first phone call from the school to introduce ourselves to one another and then letters were sent out to arrange a garden visit or a zoom call, I wasn’t keen on either option to be honest – anything like this sends my anxiety sky high but I figured it would be best to meet them socially distanced than not at all and I felt like it was the right thing to do for Alyssia. The garden visit went well, it was just a quick informal chat and then we were sent letters with school starting dates. There were no stay and play sessions, parents weren’t and still aren’t allowed in the classroom, I literally have to drop her off in the playground and watch her go in on her own. I must admit, on the first day it was hard and my heart broke a little. I had to hold back my tears. It was nothing like nursery at all, everything seemed so very different. I was worried about how she would be socially after being in lockdown for months without seeing any children other than her sister or her cousins now and again but she has done amazingly and has made friends so easily. The first day, I came home and met my sister in law for a cup of tea which helped me to hold it together but it didn’t stop me from worrying about her all day. I couldn’t just send a text to check up on her like I could with nursery, I had to wait it out and worked on the theory that if she was unsettled they would call me.

It’s been a month now and even in just a small period of time, so much has changed. Alyssia has absolutely blossomed since starting school, I knew it would be the making of her. She has learnt SO much, I can’t believe it, she has so much fun at school and the best thing is that she is happy there – I don’t know why I was so worried. I finally feel like we are getting into the swing of things and it feels good. Covid restrcitions are still very much in place and to be honest it is very hard to social distance at the school but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, right? The children all have to wash their hands as soon as they arrive at school and they are in class bubbles to minimise the risk of covid, there haven’t been any positive cases yet as far as I am aware so fingers crossed it stays that way. My little girl starting school in a pandemic was something I never thought would happen but we have come so far this year and I am so proud of how well she has adjusted at just 4 years old.

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