The moment it dawns that it's not just your child leaving primary school

06 June, 2017 : 12:02
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Time to move to 'big school'

Wednesday 1 March.  I, like thousands of other parents up and down the country, had it firmly marked in the calendar; the day when the local council would finally let us know where our child would spend the next stage of his education.  Luckily for us, when the email finally arrived, it was good news.

But as the relief of finding out at last passed, something else occurred to me. Not only will my only child be leaving his much loved primary school, but I would be leaving my role there too.

The primary school chapter closes - but am I ready?

I'd known this in theory of course, but it didn't sink in until that email stated the name of a different school in black and white.  A sadness that I hadn't expected, along with a mild panic, descended on me.  Until that moment I hadn't realised how much I'd enjoyed the primary years.

OK, so I had grumbled about lost PE kits, late requests for costumes, craft projects that were far more work for me than for him, and seemingly endless spelling tests.  Still, the plusses vastly outweighed my moans.  There were the many friends I had made among the parent group, and the PTA that I'd been heavily involved in from the moment my son joined the school.

I've baked cakes, had great fun manning Christmas fair stalls and sorting out second hand uniform, served drinks at sports day, done class rep duties and I've been PTA Treasurer for five years.  It's become a bigger part of my life than I'd realised, but now I am going to have to hand the Treasurer baton over to another parent and say goodbye to the school.

Learning to let go

Whipped up by his friends' excitement, my son started talking eagerly and earnestly about September and starting 'big school'.  I filled in the necessary paperwork to accept the new school place and sent it off, booked an appointment to get his uniform, returned to the school for another visit, and pored over their website and magazine.

Now I notice older children in 'big school' uniform everywhere, and try to stop comparing how relatively small my son is.  Discussions with other parents have covered logistics at length, fears about putting our children on public transport "on their own" have been whispered and faced, and mobile phones purchased so that as our children's independence grows, we still have a way of staying in touch and being there for them.

As time goes on, my enthusiasm for a new chapter has grown.  I have even started putting out feelers for a new Treasurer to carry on at the primary school, and made contact with the PTA at the new school, with a plan to become involved again in some way.

Saying goodbye in style

The final half term is all that's left now for all the Year 6 crew, and I'm using the time to make the very most of what little remains of the primary school era.  It's a cliché, but the years have flown by; it only seems like yesterday that I left him sniffing sadly in Reception for his first day at school (the one and only time he cried when being dropped off!).

I know the school gate culture will be pretty much non-existent come September, and my child will be far more independent in a way that currently seems quite alien. So I will volunteer for that last school trip, and I will run the drinks stall at his last primary school sports day.  I will go along to the quiz night and summer party.  I will be sure to thank personally every single teacher who has helped my son over the past seven years.  I will make sure there are hoodies, year books, a leavers' picnic, and a wine-fuelled night out for the parents, so that we go out with a bang.

Big school, with its own tears and excitement, looms for all of us now.

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Tara was formerly member of our finance team at Parentkind and Treasurer of the PTA at her son's primary school.

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