It’s that time of year when, we discover if our little ones have got a place in the preferred school, we’ve chosen for them.
As I chatted to a friend at the school gates last week, who was devastated her child didn’t get into the primary school his siblings attended, I felt her pain.
I remember that dreaded anticipation myself many years ago!
Would my first born get a space in the School, I perceived to be the best in the area we lived in at that time?
Oh, the joy when I finally received that letter telling us she had got a place.
Off we went excitedly to buy her new school uniform. Such a proud first moment was her first day at school.
Then I had to relive all that stress, anxiety and worry once again two years later, when my Sons turn came to find out if he had a place?
The sleepless nights and despair I felt when I discovered that the catchment area boundaries had changed, and a new Welsh School which was opened within twenty feet of our house, threatened his place in his Sisters school, which we all loved because, I hate to honestly admit it, but all the parents seemed affluent and the learning league table for results was high.
On top of that, the school was rated a green for very good. The rating system was based on four colour coded categories; green, yellow, amber and red, this colour coding was to demonstrate how much support the schools needed. But relying on that colour system would have been pointless because that all soon changed anyway, as the School colours slipped down when the headteacher changed, something not too uncommon for lots of schools.
Again, the relief, when I received that letter saying my Son had a place in his Sisters school was exhilarating.
I wanted to throw a ‘Thank Goodness Party!’
DOUBTS FEARS & TEARS
Yet looking back, there was no reason to celebrate, and all that stress, worry and anxiety was for nothing, as I removed my children half way through primary school, from that much sought- after, Welsh Medium School, to an English Medium School, (nothing to do with the language may I add).
Initially when I chose the Welsh School, I was happy with that decision. A few years later that decision no longer felt like the right thing for my children, leaving me to make the proactive decision of changing their schools.
A lot of parents felt the same way as me at the time, and also wanted to remove their children, but they didn’t as they were fearful how it would affect them.
I on the other hand feared how keeping my children in their current school would affect them?
But it was a decision I needed help with, so I proactively involved my children in the decision-making process, every step of the way.
This took a lot of the pressure off me to make the decision and gave them a choice.
My Daughter was keen to change schools, my Son however, was not so keen.
I asked them both to individually list the pros and cons for staying in their old school and moving to the new school. This was discussed verbally, then I drew up a pros and cons list (putting it in writing helped us all to physically see the outcome.) Both children had more pros for moving and more cons for staying put.
The decision was made instantly based on those lists.
I didn’t dwell on it or give them time to worry about the consequences, I took immediate action and within a week, they had both moved to a new school.
Today they are now in High School, but they have never regretted moving schools and the only affects it had on them at the time, were positive.
They’ve made great best friends that otherwise they would never have met and are both confident and sociable, and despite joining a new school mid-way through their primary years, their academic ability has soared.
Children are much more resilient than we give them credit for, it’s us as parents that have the doubts, fears and tears, not our children.
The initial idea to change schools came from my own parental intuition. I could have taken the easy option and ignored what I felt. I could have found many excuses to keep them in their old school but that would have kept me reactive as a parent, not proactive.
I probably would have been complaining to the school over issues that I was unhappy with for years, and would have always wondered, what if they had gone to a different school?
Proactivity quashes regrets before they fester.
Feeling confident to take -action, comes from that parental intuition that we all have, which arises from knowing and loving our children.
This insight is invaluable to tune into, as it helps us to know how our children will respond to certain people, events, or situations in advance. This gives us time to take the necessary steps, in order to avoid situations turning out undesirably.
Fortunately, this proactive approach arising from instinct or intuition, is something we naturally do as parents, most of the time anyway.
Although my Husband and I made the right choice in moving our children to a different school, and both of our children excelled in their new school, none of us regret them having gone to the old school.
My children made some great friends there (as did I, I’m still friends with some fab parents from their old primary school today)
And my children also learnt how to speak Welsh fluently at a young age (which I’ve no doubt is the reason they do so well in this subject now, as its now a compulsory GCSE subject in my Children’s English Medium High School.)
In addition, my children learnt how to change and adapt to new circumstances, build on their self- confidence and form new relationships, all invaluable skills to learn at a young age.
We all learn from experimentation and experience.
That’s why nothing happens in vain. When we view any experience, circumstance or relationship this way, we free ourselves from worry, stress and anxiety. Its all a learning opportunity. This helps us to accept what is, even if what is, isn’t what we want!
As parent’s, we need to accept that we won’t always make the right choices or decisions all of the time. And that’s ok, because we can, and will learn from all of them, good or bad along the way.
As long as we keep moving, we will make progress and rid ourselves of paralysis by analysis. By doing what we can, we can feel confident in the knowledge that we are always doing our best.
We will then be free to relax knowing that, we cannot control everything that happens to our children.
And this is a good thing, because we cannot learn everything for them, there will be times when they will have to learn for themselves, often the hard way.
Therefore, the most proactive thing that we can all do as parents, is to decide today to stop worrying about our children’s; behaviour, education, health, happiness, safety, success or whatever else is worrying us at the moment, and take- action to do something about it.
If its out of our control and we can’t do anything about the outcome or circumstances, as in the case of not getting a space at a preferred school for our child, then acceptance is the only choice we really have. This means letting go of the illusions of how perfect that school would have been, and how our children have lost out. There’s no loss, as they never had that space to begin with. There’s no loss, as there are alternatives, and alas, other schools that could end up being just as good, if not even better in the long run?
We can only do the best we can do, at any given moment in time, with the knowledge, experiences and resources we have at that time.
Circumstances change and so do we.
My priorities and perspective on my childrens initial primary school changed. So did the influential people at that school, and the school’s performance and colour coding. Had I known all that years ago, then I wouldn’t have worried for a second whether my children got a space at that school or not?
You may be experiencing joy and exhilaration, as you open that envelop that says your child has a place at your preferred school?
Or you may have doubts, fears and tears, as you hear your child has not been accepted?
But fear not, things are not always as bad as they seem. And years from now, like me, you may look back with relief, that actually, what you thought your child was denied, was in fact the best thing that could have happened?