Seeing the girls dressed in their school uniforms arouses many feelings within me.
On the one hand, they love their gingham summer dresses, shiny shoes and white ankle socks and they are excited about art club and gardening club, sports days and Summer fêtes which makes me very glad and more than a little relieved... Yet after homeschooling for so many years my perspective has changed concerning things as seemingly benign as uniforms, classes, homework and the like. I realise that these are things we can talk about, discuss and question at home as we navigate our way along this new path.
Of course I also miss our gentle days together here at home. There is a nostalgia and that quiet ache all mothers understand too well as their children grow up. My home is very quiet during those 6 hours they are away.
The girls have made lots of friends very quickly and there are lots of play-dates booked over the Summer holidays. However the friendships of little girls can be mercurial and being used to their small but steadfast homeschool buddies this has come as some surprise.
Seraphina is strong, outgoing and full of energy but her feelings and attachments run deep which makes it hard for her not to get hurt when friendships don't last. Realising that being besties forever when you're 8 and a half might only mean besties for this afternoon's break-time can be somewhat dismaying for such an earnest type. Matilda is more sanguine and philosophical but there have been moments when she's suddenly burst into tears about something that happened during the day and I wish I could have been there at the time to help her work it out.
Emmy was bullied badly during her last two years at school and it has left me concious of how children often bottle things up and push on when they feel powerless.
I probably read too deeply into things and am too sensitive on their behalf. I know we can't protect them from everything but I want them to know that they can seek comfort and help from the grown ups around them whenever they need it and just as importantly, they can change their circumstances if they are unhappy.
They are always excited to go off in the morning and are getting used to making sure they have everything they need the night before to avoid tears and last minute panics of "Wear's my jumper?" "Where's my library book.!" "You're wearing my shoes!" etc... etc...
The school has a real family feeling to it which was really important to us. They made no issue of the fact that Seraphina struggles with her reading. On her second day, her teacher gave her a special art book all her own because she loves to draw and paint.
On Monday the girls took a dried sea urchin that had washed up on the shore while we were at the sea on Saturday. They were really excited to research sea urchins so they could talk about their find at school. "Show and tell" has definitely become a weekly highlight.
Yesterday we went to their sports day event and although I can't share pictures of the races as they involve other kids Nola and I did sneak into the veggie garden to take some pictures :)