Station Life: First-day jitters come in many varied forms

Raelene HallMidwest Times
Two School of the Air students completing an online course.
Camera IconTwo School of the Air students completing an online course. Credit: unknown/supplied

Bright beaming faces, little bodies clothed in uniforms, backpacks bigger than them — the sights of a new school year and, for so many, the first year of their educational journey whether it be kindergarten or pre-primary.

I look at photos of friends’ little ones and they seem so confident, bright and excited.

My mind takes me back to when my children started school and I try to recall if they (or I) were as excited.

No kindergarten for us — it was pre-primary to begin our school journey.

No uniforms for my kids — just whatever everyday clothes they pulled on that morning.

Shoes were considered an optional extra, but if worn they were boots or thongs.

There were no first-day photos holding up commercially bought signs with all their details listed, to be preserved forever. In some ways, School of the Air education meant we hit the jackpot.

There were no school drop-offs and pick-ups or buses to catch, no making school lunches every day, and we could finish whatever time we chose.

Funny how, as the years went by, this seemed to get earlier and earlier.

For all the things our kids may have missed out on — sport, playmates and fun activities like art (because I hated doing it), they had each other, they learned to work alongside the family, and their imaginations could run riot. For us, the real “first-day” pangs came when we had to leave our 12-year-old “babies” at boarding school.

Dressed in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable uniform, which included never-before- worn items like ties and blazers and with worn-in comfortable boots traded for stiff, hard school shoes, we all struggled.

There weren’t any beaming, excited faces from the kids or us. We all tried our best to smile but the tears weren’t far away, and as we drove out that school gate, we felt like our hearts were broken.

Starting school can be a fabulous experience or it can be daunting and traumatic, for parents and students. For those who have just left their “babies” at boarding school for the first time — I see you, I hear you, and I feel your pain.

Stay in touch with the boarding school staff, talk to friends in the same situation, keep busy, and mark that first holiday in big red letters on the calendar.

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