The transition from Reception to Year 1 // Two weeks in

Friday, and we have made it to the end of the second week of Year 1. The transition from Reception hasn’t been plain sailing for Toby, and I’m sure we’ll have a while yet before he’s fully settled in Year 1. After a great first day when he was literally the first one in the classroom with a smile on his face things haven’t gone quite so smoothly so I thought I would fill you in on what’s been happening and how we’ve been dealing with it, or trying to at least!

So as I said, on his first day back at school, after some complaining about not wanting to go, when the teacher came out to let them in to the classroom he ran off without a backward glance. In fact, he ran off without his bag and coat so I had to follow him in, but it was a great start. When I picked him up he’d had a brilliant first day and all was well.

Toby all ready for his first day in Year 1

Day 2 though and the excitement had worn off. Toby didn’t want to go to school. We had lots of tears and complaining at home. When we got to school he was crying again when he had to go in the classroom but went with his teacher and it wasn’t too bad. I can understand that after six weeks at home it can be a big adjustment to go back to school, especially when it’s the first time you’ve had such a big break and then had to go back. He just kept saying ‘I want to go back home, I want to stay with you mummy’. As much as I know he’ll be fine, it’s still hard to send him off into the classroom.

Thursday and Friday of the first week back were much the same. As well as not wanting to go simply because he wanted to stay at home with me, Toby had also now decided that school was boring. Everyone says that the transition to Year 1 is almost as hard as starting in Reception and it definitely seems to be true for Toby. He has gone from lots of playing, getting to choose his own activities, and occasional sitting on the carpet or at a table to having his own seat, much more structured lessons, and it seems a lot more writing.

One of the things that Toby was getting a bit worked up about was that he had to write the ‘long date’ every day and it was too hard. He’s not the biggest fan of writing at the moment and it can take him a long time so I can understand why it was frustrating. I actually mentioned it to his teacher though, and she said he doesn’t have to do it, he can write the short date if he wants so hopefully that will make one thing a bit easier.

One thing we have been doing to try and make the separation easier is giving Toby a ‘love stone’ to keep in his pocket. This is something we started last year when he was upset about going to school without me. You may have seen some people drawing little hearts on their hand and the child has a matching one that they can look at or press when they are feeling sad at school. Well, one day last term when Toby was feeling particularly fragile on the walk to school I came up with the love stone. We had already left the house to walk to school so I couldn’t draw the hearts, so I picked up a little stone (from someone’s garden, shh!) and squeezed it. Toby then keeps it in his pocket and he can squeeze it when he’s feeling sad or missing me and the ‘magic’ stone will make it feel like he’s getting a cuddle. The beauty of this is that any stone will do – so if we forget it I can just pick up another of the ground and squeeze the magic into it!

After the first week (well, four days) back we had a quiet weekend at home to rest and recuperate. Toby and Gabe had both managed to pick up colds in their first week at school and nursery (and given them to me and Barry) so everyone was feeling a bit tired and snotty.

Toby chilling in his pyjamas after a tiring first week in Year 1

Monday morning came round and Toby’s protestations stepped up a gear. It doesn’t usually start as soon as he gets up but by the time he’s getting his uniform on he will start saying he doesn’t want to go to school. When it comes time to put his shoes on and leave the house the tears will come. I try my best to be encouraging and talk to him about all the fun he’ll have at school but it’s hard and sometimes I can’t help but just get cross with him, especially when he’s refusing to get into the car.

We had a lot of tears at the classroom door on Monday but his teacher took him in and apparently he was fine within a few minutes. I got a minute to speak to her at pick up time too and Toby had had a great day and done some super work. He was very pleased that she had told him that he had ‘knocked her socks off’! He’d also got the class Marvellous Mathematician award the week before so he is clearly doing well when he’s at school it’s just the mornings that are a nightmare.

I think most of the problem is not that Toby doesn’t want to go to school, or that he actually dislikes anything about school, but more that he would just rather be at home playing! It’s worse on the days that Barry works at home, or that Gabe isn’t at nursery because he thinks he’s missing out on something.

Tuesday was the worst day yet. The tears started in full force at home. He refused to leave the house. When we eventually got to school he wouldn’t go in the classroom and was trying to run away up the playground. When we got him inside his teacher tried to encourage him by showing me his work from the day before but it didn’t really help. When I left he was wailing and almost had to be physically restrained from running after me. I then had to leave Gabe crying at nursery too – it wasn’t a fun morning.

To be honest I was dreading Wednesday morning. But we got to school and we were a few minutes later than usual and most of the class were already inside. We went in, hung Toby’s coat up and he was just about to start crying again when I noticed his Reception teacher was waiting for the last few children from her class. So I roped her in and explained Toby had forgotten how to come to school without crying, a few words of encouragement from her (and the promise of a new Superzings toy at the end of the week from me) and he actually went in with a smile on his face.

On Thursday he went in smiling again (although Gabe was already crying about going to nursery and cried all the way there), and he did it again on Friday! Three days with no tears and he earned his new toy. I’m really hoping we have turned a corner now he’s starting to get back into the school routine again. It could all go to pot again on Monday morning but for now I am crossing my fingers (and wondering what I can bribe him with next!)

I loved school so much, and I can’t remember ever not wanting to go (although I’m sure my mum will disagree). I really want my boys to enjoy going to school and enjoy learning so these emotional mornings are hard for all of us. If anyone has any other tips or words of wisdom about how to east this transition from Reception to Year 1 then I would love to hear them, please do leave me a comment.

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