Sunday, 8 September 2013

Starting School

"Doctor, what will the future be like for Joseph, what can I expect?" 

"Well, he will be very small for a long time. We find babies like Joseph can really struggle, and you might find he needs extra support at school, or you might have to think about special school. He is likely to have learning difficulties, and you may need to fight for what he needs."

For any parent, their child starting school is a very big deal. Every parent, no matter what their journey feels a curious mixture of joy, fear, elation, horror, even grief, that their baby is growing up and starting their lifelong journey of formal learning.

The probem for me is that I have found my head right back here. I've had to constantly remind myself that he is a big strong, clever boy now.

For those of us that have had the worry of preterm birth, or a poorly child there are additional worries and concerns.

Last week Joseph started school. Our school has a very throughtful "soft opening" programme that I have found really helpful. It started last year with me attending a parent's evening, then they visited Joseph at nursery, and Joseph visited them with the outgoing reception class. The teacher and teacher's assistant came to see him at home, and I told them my main concerns.

I felt listened to and supported and I'm confident that he will overcome any obstacle in his way, just like he has everything else in his short life.

On Thursday Joseph donned his uniform and started school, just two hours. I wasn't home, I was at work, so my husband took him, and admitted tears in his eyes as he left him there.

Tomorrow is Joseph's first full day at school. Because of this soft opening, I feel ready and I know Joseph is! Bring it on!

Footnote: Joseph is what I call a "simple prem" in school terms. He was due in August but born in May, so I felt he was ready to start school with his peers in his correct year, as he would if he had been born in August.

For many parents this isn't as straight forward and I'd urge you to look at Bliss and the new guidance for summer born children.  

The decision on what you do is complex, and Local Education Authorities vary widely in their knowledge of preterm birth and their attitude to education and when children should start school. Do your research and have your conversations early, and liaise with other parents. 



  1. I'm glad he's ready, I'm sure he'll love it soon :-)

  2. So pleased the transition is going well and he's ready to start. Enjoy your big new adventure Joseph!