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!

Highs and Lows!

Last week I published a piece about my little preppie and separation anxiety. I’m ecstatic to announce that we have SUCCESS with no more tears and nothing but a confident happy little bunny! I feel like I can finally breathe! After starting the week terribly last week, by Thursday her tears when saying bye to me were very minimal and it was her first day at school where she didn’t shed a tear. Friday was our break through day with NO tears at all! I can’t express enough how overjoyed I am feeling right now…it took two weeks, but I have my beautiful cheerful daughter back again!!

Sienna is like a different child since the anxiety from the pit of her belly has left her precious soul. She is awesome at getting ready in the mornings now and she is relying on me less and less when doing her morning jobs at school. She is happily completing tasks at school now and as her teacher said to me “she is working like a trooper!” To say I’m proud is an understatement!!! I went into the weekend feeling completely the opposite of what I was feeling the week before and what a fabulous weekend we had! I expected the cycle to possibly start again on Monday (not at the extreme) as it was after the weekend, but she was as happy, settled and content as she was where she left off last Friday! We made it Sie Sie girl…we never gave up!

Which brings me to why I’m writing this blog. Prep is such a trying year in our little people’s lives. They have gone from going to preschool 2-3 days a week and being in the comforts of their home for the rest of the time, possibly even having a day sleep, to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week where they are learning several different curriculum areas and being asked to sit still, listen and pay attention more than they ever have in their lives! NO WONDER THEY COME HOME NEAR DELIRIOUS!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find the first 6 months of prep the toughest. Going through prep for the second time around you’d think I’d be use to it, but I’d forgotten what the school day does to their young minds. It drains them, zaps them of all sensibility and hinders them from making rational choices! First time prep mums if you are questioning their behaviour at the moment…I promise you it does get better!!! But like everything we have to ride with the highs and lows and allow time for it to even itself out.

I describe early days prep behaviour very animal like…I mean this with absolute love when I say this! It’s like they are on the prowl just waiting for a moment of time where they can annoy someone or explode like a time bomb when things don’t go their own way. Sienna is either a weeping mess at EVERYTHING or a hyperactive hyena! Self-control is difficult at this age anyway, but at present its as worse as ever! I thought boys were bad, but geesh, god help me when Sienna goes through puberty!!!

What to do mummas?? We need to be more consistent than ever! It’s very easy for us to keep saying “but they are so tired, they just started prep!” yes, yes they did, BUT like any phase they will come out the other end and if we don’t act on their inappropriate behaviour they will store that one in their little brain files and remember that forever. I think the biggest thing at the moment is to keep life simple.
*Limit after school activities and just allow them plenty of down time.
*Bring everything forward half an hour…earlier dinner means earlier bed time.
*Allow time on the weekend for a nap in the day to help catch up on sleep.
*Stick to a strict routine…especially in the mornings and at bedtime.
*Praise, praise, praise when things are going great!
*Follow through and be consistent when things aren’t so great!
*Remember you have to be cruel to be kind!

You will feel like you are on a rollercoaster with many highs and lows over the next wee while, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. They do get use to going to school everyday and their little minds adapt to all the fabulous learning they are being exposed to. But it is up to us to be a bit flexible at the moment and provide some changes to cope with an ever-changing preppie. If we allow the things I mentioned above to happen, it will eliminate us from wanting to be put in a padded room with several bottles of wine lol!….On that note I’m off to pick up the kids from school…mmmm I wonder what mood I will strike this afternoon?:/!

To answer that question…we were an angry and grumpy little girl yesterday…today quite happy but at times hypo! I use three strikes and your out system. Three strikes and it’s bed for the night! Yesterday was 5.30 and thankfully she slept until 6am this morning! Today we only made it to strike one and her normal bedtime of 7pm…I’m sure tomorrow will be different again!

Keep strong mummas…remember we have the power to give our babies great things and the power to take great things away, now if only they would remember that!

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It’s Lovely to be Loved!

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It’s been a week now since school resumed and a new cohort of preppies begun their journey into education! How’s your little preppie going? Loving it? Hating it? Upset? Mine…not as good as I’d hope:/

I always knew in the back of my mind that Sienna may get a little upset when leaving me. 12 months ago when she started preschool (which was the first time she’d gone anywhere) she suffered terribly from separation anxiety! Like prep, she is always happy to go, but the thought of mummy leaving her cuts to her core! But I thought she was going to settle ok. She has come so far since the first day she started preschool. She was so excited when we were buying her uniforms and essentials for prep and wanted to try it all on everyday in the week leading up to school starting. She told everyone we saw “I’m going to prep…finally I’m going to big school like Bailey!!!” This was making me confident and at ease…but I still had a feeling!

I was waiting and watching for signs in the days leading up to starting prep. But there was nothing other then positive talk and excitement…I actually started believing that maybe she was going to be ok! The first morning of school she was super excited and organised! She was up and dressed by 6.30 lol! There was no sign of distress or anxiety. We got to the school and still ok. But then between the gate and me taking Bailey to class she lost sight of me for a second and that’s when it started. The tears started to flow and “I don’t want you to leave me mummy” was what she kept telling me!

My heart sunk. I was a little surprised, but apart of me knew it was possible. But then something came over her. Once she walked into her prep room (which is like home as my nephews and Bailey were in the same class) she put on her big happy smile and was so relaxed. We did puzzles together and she waited patiently for Mrs Hollier’s instructions. But I was waiting for it…and it never came. She was fine. I left with her smiling and waving “bye mummy!” what a relief…I was so proud of her!!! When I arrived to pick her up, I asked her teacher how her day went and she said there were a few times where she was teary but not too bad… Phew! I was relieved!

The second morning was just as great. Sienna was happy to return, settled beautifully again with her smile and “see you this afternoon mummy!” Only once during the day she was emotional. I was so stoked! I actually Was letting myself relax and believe that thank god two out of two children have settled into prep with no major dramas. Then day three hit. She didn’t want to eat breakfast, getting dressed in her school uniform wasn’t as exciting and although she had another excellent drop off with no tears, she cried on and off all day;(

After lots of chatting and reassuring, I was certain Friday, her last day of her first week was going to be successful, but it was worse;( For the first time she cried when I had to leave, she cried on and off all day to the point her eye was so red when she came to greet me in the afternoon and she hardly ate all day;( I started my weekend feeling quite distressed about it all….and so different when I’m usually on the other end:/…being the teacher in this situation is so much easier I tell you!

We went away for the weekend and I let her have heaps of time where we didn’t talk about school…I just wanted to see her relaxed. Her belly must have been churning so much during the week that I felt it was important to just leave the issue alone. When I did ask her why she cried all the time, her response wasn’t because she had no friends or because she didn’t like school or her teachers, her response was “because I missed you all day!”…god bless her cotton socks! And it is just that, because every afternoon when she sees me I get the biggest kiss and cuddle and she spends the first 5-10 minutes gazing at me and is as happy as pig in mud…it really is lovely to be loved!!

Now we are in the second week, she is no better, in fact worse in some ways. Monday morning was the hardest of all. She had to be pulled from me screaming “mummy I want you, I don’t want you to go:(!…just one more kiss mummy;(!” It literally broke my heart. I shed some silent tears, but my little darling girl will never know this! It’s so important as the parent to put on our brave face, breathe deeply and walk away, even though you just want to hug them tight and sit with them until they stop crying! I was so grateful that the school rang to tell me that she had settled nicely and was having a good day…what a relief! There is nothing worse than knowing your child is away from you and feeling upset…one of the hardest parts of parenting!

Three days into the second week and she has cried every morning, but her days are becoming more and more settled. As much as it sucks that the drop off isn’t pleasant like it was with my son, I’m content that she is settling and participating socially and academically during her school day…and eating her lunch! My aim now is to not let it get to me, I will give myself a nervous break down if I think it about it too much. So now I go and do her jobs and a puzzle with her and give her one kiss and cuddle and make a quick exit…it’s the quick exit that makes the teacher’s job a lot easier! I know she is in good hands and I just have to trust that. I know she is starting to improve, at least this week she is eating her breakfast without complaining she has a belly ache:/!

Ahhh separation anxiety. It really isn’t fun for anyone involved. It’s quite common in little ones and when you think about it it’s not a bad thing, all they are doing is missing their mummy and daddy! I know exactly how Sienna feels as I suffered it as well and even now I don’t like being far from the ones I love the most! There is nothing more we can do mummas other than keep positive, encourage them to be brave and reassure, reassure, reassure. Time is the essence in this situation and they will eventually settle and learn to be ok with saying goodbye.

Everyday Sienna tells me she missed me and although I can’t wait for the day she is super excited to be at school from the minute the first bell rings, for now I will take comfort in that at least I know she loves me and it is always so lovely to be loved!

Keep strong mummas who are also going through the same situation…we can do this and it WILL get easier and one day we will look back on this as just a memory with lessons learnt:) our little ones will settle with time!

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A Snip in the String!

Things are changing. Bailey is becoming a mature little man, Mia has left her baby days behind her and is becoming an independent little lady and the biggest change that is round the corner is Sienna starting prep. That means when school resumes for another year next year, I’ll have two out of three of my children going to school!

When you become a mum for the first time, you really only think about the kisses, cuddles and laughter that will be shared with your little ones, but my goodness it’s so much more than that! With each age brings a new phase. For the first few years the phases are ones that are managed from the home and then they turn 4 and 5 and they have to go to school! School! That means 5 days a week, 6 hours a day of being under the influence of someone other than yourself, husband or grandparent! It’s the first bit of the apron string that is cut forever and it’s really hard to stomach!

From the second Sienna was placed on my chest she became my little princess, the sun that brightens up my day with her infectious smile and laugh. Up until the age of 3 and a half she was only ever cared for by myself, my husband or my mother. When she started preschool she was so sad:( She cried when we dropped her off and was ecstatic when we arrived to pick her up! She would beg me to let her stay home with nanny. But then she started to cry less and less when we dropped her off. She started to become confident when having to leave me. She finally found a love of learning and enjoyed having a place that she could call her school!

Thank goodness! I was beginning to think Sienna was never going to want to cut her piece of the apron string, but slowly, bit by bit she has. You spend days and days leading up to the first time they have to leave you feeling sad and terrible and then when they cry and have to be ripped off your leg, you wish that they were happy and excited to be there…you can’t win! Sienna is so much like me. I always cried when I started school for the first time, which makes it even worse because I know exactly how she is feeling! Bailey has always been so different! He has hardly shed a tear when he’s been dropped off somewhere for the first time!

Yesterday was the beginning of what will be a wonderful prep journey for Sienna. It was Runcorn Heights prep orientation day. Sienna was exposed to her teachers, aides, peers and classrooms. She had a wonderful time after feeling a bit apprehensive before we got there. Yesterday showed me that my baby girl has matured and developed so much in terms of her confidence and self-esteem since the beginning of the year! I know I didn’t leave her, but there was no sign of tears or shyness, just lots of smiles and her having fun! This made my stomach feel settled and I was left feeling happy and content:)!

Then the moment when you purchase their school uniform for the first time! They wish for you to rush home so they can try it on. The shirt went on first, then the shorts and finally the hat. They instantly go from your baby to this big grown up that secretly you wish you could squish back up to a baby! You feel the tears wanting to drop from your eyes, but you don’t want them to notice! How did this happen? How did I go from breastfeeding, changing nappies, celebrating her first word and first steps to a prep student, in what feels like a blink of an eye!

This time should be easier, I’ve already done this before. But it’s not. No matter how many times I get one of my children ready to embark on their school journey, I always feel sad…happy for them, but sad that another chapter has closed! But as they say as one door closes another one opens. The new phase for us will be strange and different! I haven’t had one child home with me for 4 and a half years and Mia is going to miss her best gal like crazy! But I know this is the beginning of my little poppet’s education, where she will begin to stamp her mark on this world and for her to do this successfully, I have to set her free and snip that part of the string!

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My big prep girl…she looks so adorable and grown up in her uniform:)