Notes on the journey of motherhood

Into the wild: the first weeks of primary school

First Born has now been at school for five weeks. He’s already broken one lunchbox, started using hair product and has requested ‘a big hair spike like Astro boy’. Just this week, he read a book all by himself, sounding out his letters, pointing at the words with his finger. In just five short weeks he’s transformed from an oversized pre-schooler to a boy who is all legs, arms and eyes underneath a gigantic school hat.

First Born’s prep classroom is across the corridor from my own prep classroom, where I attended my first year of school nearly 30 years ago. The shell of the prep building is the same as it was in 1985, a ‘portable’ made of aluminium boards and tall timber steps with a metal hand rail. The building has undergone some minor modifications: in the long corridor there are now fixed shelving units for school bags, instead of hooks, each cubby hole carefully decorated by its owner. The classrooms are still divided by concertina walls, their alabaster vinyl slightly tatty at the edges; the classroom sink is fitted out with wood veneer doors and an orange laminate bench top that reminds me of pungent curry powder.

There are now five prep classes, there were only two back in my year. In the last 10 years we’ve seen a southward migration of families from the cramped, over-priced inner city to the bigger, shrubby blocks of this once sleepy, now swelling, seaside town.

Where trees once dominated the school landscape, the yard is now crowded with colourful towers of play equipment. The big old pine trees that used to creak, moan and sway above our games of Star Wars and ‘mothers and babies’ have all been cut down. I presume it was for safety reasons, although I honestly can’t remember a single pine cone related injury in my school days. In place of the pines, there is a sensory garden, a small plot dedicated to herbs and native shrubs. While I roll my eyes at the title, the preps are completely unaware of the trite name of the place: here, they still play wild. On most days, they’re still playing Star Wars and ‘mothers and babies’.

12 Responses to “Into the wild: the first weeks of primary school”

  1. Gill

    “Into the wild” has been the theme of my last week too..

    I love that First Born is treading your old path. I remember playing Star Wars at school and I’m fairly certain pine cones were an important prop.

    A recent sign at O’s school read “We plan to remove the pine trees that have been reported by concerned parents”. Pine trees – the new national pest?

  2. Michelle

    I have not had the pleasure of landing on your blog for awhile. So nice to have you back. And a beautiful piece. It must be amazing, the continuity of having your children go to your old school. And seeing how much things have changed while staying largely the same.
    Michelle x

  3. C.B. Wentworth

    How sad that they cut down all the trees – sometimes that’s all the makes a school campus feel comfortable.

    I’m curious as a teacher in the states – how big is a typical class?

  4. Cat

    The mention of those games took me straight back to my own early primary school experience. I loved the first few years of school before things got very complicated by my family circumstances. It must be bittersweet to see your boy grow so quickly in such a short period of time. We are off to the first of a few appointments to check out schools and kindies in the morning and the whole process seems quite daunting from this vantage point.

    • the rhythm method

      Cat, I found it completely daunting too but in the end our local public primary was the best option. It’s hard to envisage how it all works from the outside, particularly with your first child. Makes great fodder for overthinking mamas! Turned out I was worried about nothing. Good luck! x

  5. A Farmer's Wife

    Just catching up on your blog… Way behind with my blog reading.

    When Farmboy went to Year 1 the one thing I noticed was that the classroom still smelled like I remembered my own classrooms smelling. Paper, glue and cleaning agents!

    Take Care.

  6. Kymmie @ a day in the life of us

    Oh, I love that your son is going to your old school. How it must bring back so many memories! (Such a shame they cut down all the trees!)

    My son is now at our local public school (after much stress and indecision on my part), and his teacher is brand spanking new. Madison loves her, and it turns out she was a student at the school too. So cute!

    As for the change in pace, it’s a bit frantic isn’t it? I wrote a whole post about how much my son has had to learn in just a few weeks of being in school. And how much I’ve had to learn. I’m doing my best, but I confess I’ve dropped a few balls ;)



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