I don’t usually smile happily to myself as I push my trolley around the supermarket. But, this past Sunday, I did. I happened to bump into a student’s grandfather in Woollies. I asked him how week one of school had been for his grandson who has just transitioned out of our ELCs and into Year K at Moriah Primary School. He paused and then asked, “Do you think my grandson is normal, Cathy?”
My heart skipped a beat. This was not going to be the conversation I had anticipated. He went on to share this little story…
“This morning, he woke up his parents to say that they were going to be late. He was fully dressed in his school uniform, hair combed, teeth brushed. His mum jumped out of bed, checked the time, and agreed; they would be late if she didn’t hurry up. Then she realised it was Sunday, not Monday.
She explained to her son that there was no school today, being the weekend. He fell to the floor sobbing, so disappointed that he would have to wait another whole day and night before he could go to school again.”
The grandfather repeated his question. “In my day, I would have cried that I had to go to school, my grandson cries because he can’t go to school. Is this normal?”
We chatted a little longer, and what emerged from our conversation was the affirmation that when we put thoughtful strategies in place that articulate helpful boundaries and clear expectations, transitions are easier and more successful. This grandfather shared one last comment, “Until you experience it, you can’t imagine how wonderful a school can be. My grandson is so lucky to be a part of it all; as are we.”
So, smile I did.
Our ever-evolving and growing early years program sets out to offer our youngest children opportunities to build a secure foundation, to develop a sense of self, a sense of belonging with a strong connection to their school.
We know that when our children feel safe, are able to form reciprocal and trusting relationships with their friends and educators then they are truly ready to learn. We do this in collaboration with our Primary School, as they prepare to welcome all the new students and families.
When our young Year K students show up every day at school (Monday to Friday, that is), in their shiny shoes, with their hearts and minds full of anticipatory excitement, we are assured that, in fact, we have created a new normal – one we have come to expect and one we can all be very proud of.
My wish for all our ELC graduates is that they hold onto this hope, to continue to grow their love for their school, and build the strong life-long connections that will keep them safe, and successful learners – inside the classrooms and out on the playground. And, hot on the heels of Mrs. Roberta Goot’s newsletter article last week, my wish for all our families is that they help keep this hope alive through forging trusting and respectful relationships with our school and, in doing this, together we keep our children engaged and successful learners, and school a place they miss on the weekends.
About the author
Cathy Milwidsky is the Director of Early Learning at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW