Time to Shine!

I love writing a blog that has a happy ending and this one does 😉……

Almost three years ago when my middle baby started prep she was shy, quiet, reserved and suffered separation anxiety. Sienna (aka Sie Sie) was the little girl who never caused any harm, never caused any commotion and was the one who would always be the peace keeper to make everyone else happy. She was the little girl who was too shy to talk to strangers. She was the little girl who hid behind my leg if someone tried to engage in a conversation. She was the little girl who would be pushed around in the toddler area of a play ground but would never make waves and would go to another area to play. She’s always been bright but lacked confidence in her own ability, and her chance to shine was always crippled by that. But that was then…..

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Over the past few years while she’s been at school, she has been so very lucky to have the most amazing educators who have not only nurtured her learning, but have never given up on her when it comes to her being confident. From prep to now (end of grade 2), her walls that she has built so strong around her, have been chipped away and knocked down bit by bit, layer by layer. I’m so happy to now say that my daughter who I’ve always worried about where all of this would end up, is on top of her world! She now oozes with confidence, challenges herself at school with new concepts and tasks and is reaping the rewards.

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Only a few weeks ago Sie Sie received an award for moving up 6 levels in her reading just in a couple of months. To say I’m proud is an understatement. I knew she had it in her, but she has always lacked confidence with her reading, but now this boost has paved the way for her. Living with a brother that is very confident (almost too confident) has to be hard when you’re battling a lack of confidence yourself and it sure doesn’t help when her little 4-year-old sister corrects her and answers questions for her all the time.

I think it’s safe to say Sienna has found her voice in her home and in her school life. She is no longer the girl who hides behind us, nor is she the girl who is shy and softly spoken. She is funny, charismatic, fearless and very mature. She stands up for herself and is very caring for her peers who struggle with things that other children take for granted. She is CONFIDENT in her own skin.

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This has also been evident with her sporting achievements this year. Sienna started playing basketball at the beginning of this year when she was only 6 and a half. After one match of playing in under 8s, she was asked to play in the under 10 mixed division. She had such a wonderful first season and was asked to play in the under 11 girls this season. This also followed with receiving a place in the under 12 girls rep team, but due to only being 7 and not even playing for a year yet, we thought it would be best to wait for rep basketball until she is a little older. We get so much enjoyment out of watching her shine in her chosen sport and her infectious smiles and giggles on court are beautiful. This girl has come so far it makes my heart beat with pride!

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So to all the mummas out there who worry about their quiet achieves who lack confidence, be patient and try not to worry. This experience for me has shown me that all children develop in their own way and in their own time. The solution to this is TIME. Children shine when they are ready to let down their walls of security. For some it’s easier than others. All we can do is encourage and support them and be there to celebrate their success. This year sure has been my daughter’s time to shine and what a wonderful feeling it’s been for us all! All I can say, there is hope for my littlest girl yet lol!

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Connie Confidence!

Am I dreaming? Is it really the end of term 3? That’s really scary. This means in about 3 months time my little preppie won’t be a preppie but a big grade one girl!! How can that be. It only feels like yesterday I was nervously walking her into prep for the first time. It only feels like yesterday that she was screaming while clung to my leg not wanting me to leave her behind;( It only feels like yesterday she was suffering from separation anxiety…..how things have changed!

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First day of prep…

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you would have read all about the troubles we encountered with Sienna at the beginning of the year when she started prep. To sum it up – it was two weeks of hell!! Two weeks of tears and fears. Two weeks of my heart being ripped out of my chest every time we said goodbye. Two weeks of me experiencing one of my parenting fears, but thankfully it only lasted two weeks. After two weeks the tears stopped, the pains in the belly before school became less and less and my beautiful girl started to smile and relax into the place that she calls school! It took the whole of the first term to really settle into the routine of school and the expectations of learning, so by the time term 2 came around she was completely in ‘drive’!

Today as I write this piece, my little (well not so little but very tall) preppie is far from the girl she was 8 months ago. She now beams with confidence. She now walks with her shoulders back and her head up high. She now participates in anything that is offered to her. She is now independent and is starting to take risks. She now can confidently read, write, count and make connections and apply what she is learning to the real world. She is the girl that we’ve always seen at home at school. As a parent all you want for your children is to feel happy, safe and have the confidence to ‘have a go’! Now that this has been achieved, I’m so happy and content. It’s been a long road ‘in progress’, but the foundations that have been built so far, is an amazing starting point for my daughter’s education.

This week Sienna received her first student of the week. All year she has watched and celebrated her peers getting an award on parade and never once has she been upset or disheartened by not receiving it yet. I work on parade day and each week I would feel sad that I wouldn’t be there to see her standing up on stage holding her award, but luck was on my side!! Parade for the first time ever, was changed to a Wednesday. When I dropped Sienna off at school it was like music to my ears when her teacher told me she was getting student of the week! I quickly made a call to my mum who met me up at the school and together we sat there with such great delight and watched a very proud and excited prep girl, who walked confidently across the stage holding her award! I was so proud it brought a tear to my eye. Her award was for working really hard on learning her sight words and reading!!! She so deserved it and was well worth the wait for everyone!!!

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I titled this blog ‘Connie Confidence’ as Runcorn Heights do a program called ‘You Can Do It’. It’s a program that promotes engagement and achievement, positive behaviour and well-being while supporting the students social and emotional capabilities. When students are seen showing confidence, resilience, persistence organisational skills and getting along with their peers, which are the four key areas, they receive a ticket which goes into a barrel and names are drawn out on parade for a reward. It’s a great program that is heavily immersed into each classroom and has thoroughly assisted my daughter with the issues she faced at the beginning of the year!

It’s so wonderful to see Sienna happy in her own skin at school now. It’s going to be a sad day when she has to say goodbye to prep and leave behind her safe haven and her amazing prep teacher and aide. But my Connie Confidence daughter has fought her toughest battle and from here on she is only going to become better and better as her schooling journey continues. I’m looking forward to seeing what direction her path takes – it’s such a great experience to be apart of!

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So proud of my girl:)

To Send or Hold Back…..

This week’s hot controversial topic on several a current affairs shows, is knowing when to send your children to school! Should we send our children to school as the very youngest child (at 4 and a half) or hold them back a year so they are a year older?? As a teacher and a mum, I couldn’t resist but to right a blog on this topic that is very dear to my heart and to give my two cents worth!

Is 4 and a half too young to start full time school? How long is a piece of string? There are so many variables when it comes to children and their readiness for school. As a mum of three children who are all born in the second half of the school birthday calendar year, they will always be on the younger side compared to their peers, with my middle child being born on the 30th of June…the absolute baby of the class! when I fell pregnant and realised when their birthday would be, it didn’t really phase me too much, I was more happy that none of them had to spend another year at home and they would start school like we all did the year they turned 5. Ask me now though and my opinion is some what different!

I believe age is just a number. No matter how old you are, depending on what you’ve been exposed to will depend on your level of knowledge, understanding, maturity and readiness. Genetics play a part in the physical side of growth and cognitively sometimes we are lucky to be born a genius or the complete opposite. And then there is simplicities or complexities of one’s personality which would make no difference to what order a child is – oldest or youngest!

When watching 60 minutes on Sunday night and listening to the reasoning behind why those parents held their children back, I could understand their concerns and reasoning, but I was most impressed with the mother of twins who were 4 and a half when starting prep say “let them be!” When the reporter asked “do we as parents wrap our kids up in cotton wool too much?” she simple and honestly answered “yes we do!” I really loved how she kept it real!

All in a Year!

Exactly one year ago I started my blogging journey. I’ve put myself out there to the world and exposed myself as a mum, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I’ve covered parenting topics from breastfeeding to middle child syndrome, I’ve shared my highs and lows with you all. I’ve captured moments of my running achievements and posted pieces about my cake creations and my love of decorating and fashion!

Blogging for me is a great hobby where I can release my inner thoughts and a perfect way to capture my life as it stands. I started blogging in the hope to help people! As a teacher I love to offer something to someone and help them to learn and as my blog’s caption says ‘life is about learning’, it’s nice to know that someone out there could be learning something from the pieces that I write! And even though I started blogging to help people, it also didn’t phase me if only a few people here or there read my posts as it’s a great memory for me to always look back on.

I remember when I posted my first blog, within hours I had people respond…it was a bit weird at first! But from one blog to the next, it became a natural routine of my week! And I’m happy to say that so far I’ve had nothing but positive feedback and a wonderful supportive audience who I appreciate them talking time out of their busy schedules to read what I have to say!

To celebrate my year’s journey, I’ve included my top 5 most read blogs over the year and my top 3 that I loved the most!

Top 5:
Number 1 – Tattoo
Number 2 – Bulging Belly
Number 3 – ‘Jackpot’
Number 4 – Tiger Stripes
Number 5 – 10kg Gone

My favourite top 3:
Number 1 – In the name of ‘love’
Number 2 – Bond of sisterhood
Number 3 – End of Breastfeeding

I hope you enjoy reading over some of my favourite blogs that I’ve written. I can’t believe I’ve posted over 100 blogs now! When I was choosing my top three there were pieces I went through that I forgot I’d written about…always such a wonderful memory of what has been achieved! Once again thank you for your constant support it’s always warmly appreciated! I look forward to sharing more of me and my Party of 5’s life over the coming 12 months!

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When I Grow up I want to be……

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It only feels like yesterday I was sitting on the carpet of 1 Green’s floor in front of Mrs Brown listening to a story. I was 6 years old, as fresh as a daisy ready to embrace the world of learning. I was shy, reserved (I know shocking lol), apprehensive about what to expect. I cried from one day to the next when mum dropped me off, for at least the first couple of weeks. Eventually I learnt to trust the situation I was in. I loved my teacher. I loved my friends and before long I loved school. That little shy, reserved 6 year, who would enjoy playing make-believe teachers always asked herself the question….when I grow up, what do I want to be? I remember saying a hairdresser, medical receptionist, a nurse and a teacher was commonly spoken about!

It seriously felt within a blink of an eye, I was being asked that very same question by my high school’s Guidance Officer! This time it wasn’t a hypothetical question. I had to respond. I had a Qtac form to fill out! It’s such a huge time of life completing high school and then being faced with the big bad world. Where to from there? It’s been 16 years now since I answered my Guidance Officer’s question. I didn’t originally put teaching first, I actually preferenced nursing first and it wasn’t until I changed my Qtac form to primary education before second round offers were handed out, that my teaching journey was to start!

Going from a year 12 student, where I was school captain, everyone knew me I knew everyone to a university campus with many different age groups of people, was so daunting to begin with, but I was lucky enough to have a few friends from high school studying the same degree, which helped with some of the nerves. The first semester was the hardest. Learning the way of university life. Learning the expectations of assignment writing, research techniques, exam procedures….it was a whole new world which became a part of my everyday life for the next four years! I remember stepping in a classroom for the first time. I was only to observe and I had butterflies. Then in my third year it was my turn to teach for the first time. I was up to my ears in lesson plans, resources and activities and I loved it all! It was in my third year where I sincerely knew I made the right decision to become a teacher!

My final year at Uni was brilliant! I loved every minute of it! As each month passed by, the puzzle to this big picture was closer to being complete! I had a fantastic experience for my final prac, which I believe was the making of the teacher that I became and still am to this day! And if I thought I had butterflies in my stomach when I first stepped into a classroom as an observing prac student, they were nothing like the night before my very first day of teaching! I hardly slept a wink! I couldn’t stop thinking about everything. What was my class going to be like? Will I be able to cope? Am I organised enough? My very first day of teaching was nothing short of fantastic!!!! I was finally doing what I loved. A teacher with my very own class….who to this day will always hold a special place in my heart!

That day was 12 years ago now! My gosh how things have changed since then. For the first four years of my career, teaching was my everything! I lived breathed and ate it every chance I got…I didn’t have a choice at first, that’s usually what happens when you first start a job! The students became like my own and I had such a wonderful relationship with my fellow staff members, admin, students and parents of the community! From year to year I built on my skills, confidence and ability as a teacher. I took on roles and responsibilities that suited my strengths and always loved the challenge! Then I bought a house, then I got married, then I had my first baby, then I had my second baby, which took me to 7 years of teaching!

Like I said I loved being a classroom teacher. I loved educating, helping and supporting kids and challenging and extending the gifted. The bond between a teacher and their students really is something so special and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to experience that time and time again. But at 7 years I was faced with teaching special ed. Like anything it was a bit daunting at first, but within a few weeks, I knew this would become my new passion. I was ready for my career to take a path change and the flexibility when having little ones at home yourself, really came in handy. In such a short space of time I went from a class special ed teacher to a TAEA which in plain English meant I was at a small school 2 days a week and ran their special ed program. This job was brilliant! It allowed me to challenge not only myself as a professional, but it has given me many leadership skills that I still use to this day. It also helped me in the next role that I took on which was a behaviour teacher.

Being a Behaviour Advisory Teacher (BAT – teachers called me Nat the Bat lol) gave me a great opportunity to experience a different field to special ed, although dealing with a lot of the behaviour was very similar, the processes of each job is quite different. In this role I was also given several opportunities to experience a Deputy Principal role which I thoroughly enjoyed. I felt at this point in my career I was at the crossroads of deciding what I wanted to pursue….a Head of Special ed role or a Deputy Principal role….then I fell pregnant with my Mimi girl! Didn’t this throw a spanner in the works. We were all but convinced that we weren’t able to have any more children due to a thyroid problem that I had, turns out once I had half my thyroid removed, that completely fixed any problems conceiving!!!

Something changed in me having my third baby. My whole perspective on life, my attitude, it just all changed. I know that being diagnosed with a heart condition while pregnant had a lot to do with this. My focus changed. I always loved being a mum and being a mum was the most important job, but once I became a mum of three it was my only role in my eyes! When I had to return to work after my third baby, after having 13 months off, I didn’t want to be there. I’d lost my ‘teaching’ focus, my passion went missing and I really didn’t see it coming back anytime soon! But then I was placed back in a special ed role, with wonderful people and although it took quite a few months, I eventually found my way back on the right track again!

I’ve been back to work for 12 months now and I’m happy to say that my passion for teaching and learning is as strong as it’s ever been. I absolutely love my special ed role. I’ve gone from a middle to upper school teacher to a prep/1/2 special ed teacher and no matter what I’ve experienced so far as a teacher, I’ve loved every minute of it. Like anything there has been many lows which I’ve reflected on and learnt from, but a mountain of highs that I’ve been able to share and celebrate with many. Am I still the same teacher I was 12 years ago, hell no way! I’ve grown up, I’ve become a mother! I still have the same beliefs and philosophy, but I’m more compassionate than ever, more patient then ever and I have a better understanding of children, their parents and the world in which they come from. So many people are still pondering and reluctant to finish the sentence – when I grow up I want to be…..I’m happy to say that I’ve made a great career choice in becoming a teacher and wouldn’t have it any other way!

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