With the Christmas holidays having begun, my first term as a school gate dad is over. More importantly, it concludes my daughter’s first few months in the school system.
During this time Helen has learned all manner of new skills and developed skills she already had. Helen’s reading and writing have come on massively and her latest trick is to see how high she can count. She claims to have counted to 160 but as I was sat next to her when she attempted this feat I have to say it was, ahem, a little short of that number!
Helen certainly seems to enjoy school and it’s sparked a real desire in her to learn. It’s a joy to watch and a testament to the teaching staff. I have a new-found and very deep respect for the teaching profession. I don’t wish to get political but I find myself a rabid supporter of the National Union of Teachers, awkward for someone that eyes the trade union movement with deep suspicion.
Being the dad at the school gates has had its ups and downs. I think I was shell-shocked during the first few weeks at the beginning of term. Having a child start school was such a huge shift for the entire family. There was so much to remember every day and both my wife and I felt paranoid our daughter might not settle in.
The change to the morning routine was also a major shift to get used to. I have to get both our children up, dressed, fed and out of the house in about one hour fifteen minutes. Somehow or other I manage it and every day I consider it a massive achievement.
I can only speak from personal experience, but the other comment I’d make is how inclusive the school environment is to us dads. All the teaching and support staff have made me feel welcome and never questioned my presence or made a remark that’s out of turn. I can’t necessarily say the same about the informal networks around the school but that’s a different blog post for another time.
I know I can be very quick to point out instances when us dads are treated as second class citizens. It’s something I’ve experienced time and again from nurseries, childminders and healthcare professionals (to name but a few culprits). My experiences of the primary education system have, thus far, been wholly positive. I think that’s an important point to make because it should be highlighted when somebody gets something right.
That’s been my experience, what about you? Did your child start school last September? If so, how have they got on? Dads, does any of the above ring true with you?