My experience: Starting school – three months before September start date

It’s just under three months until Miss NHM starts school and I’m feeling quite despondent about the whole thing.

I’m desperately trying not to get stressed about it but the more I see and the more I read, the more worried I’m becoming.

I do my best to be as positive as I can on NorthHantsMum but I also pride myself on being honest and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like I do about my child starting school…

Receiving our confirmation email

We received our email confirmation of which school Miss NHM would be starting on April 16th 2015 at 6.40am.

Despite thinking I wasn’t too worried about it, I had very little sleep the night before, lots of nightmares and was up at 6am waiting for the email to arrive.

(Just as a side point, whoever put that email together at Hampshire County Council should be sacked! It was in four different font types, different colours, and very hard to read. I literally had to read it three times just to confirm which school Miss NHM had got into, because the structure was so bad!!!)

We were then told that we had to return proof of identify within two weeks. It was a good thing we weren’t on holiday because you had to confirm your child’s identity within those two weeks or you would lose your child’s place at school.

(I was shocked to see on the original form that you have to return to confirm your child’s identity, that you have to detail if there are any restraining orders against any people in your children’s life!!! Naive? Moi?)

When I went into the school during the following week, and took Miss NHM’s passport with me, I asked some standard questions about when Miss NHM would actually start school. The receptionist couldn’t answer these questions. (I have already established which receptionist is the rude and obnoxious one ;-)).

They couldn’t actually tell me as the date wouldn’t be confirmed until three months before she started school. Yes, three months before starting school. It’s a good thing that I had anticipated this and kept enough leave from work because otherwise we would have been in trouble. They hadn’t actually confirmed, by the end of April, when Year R would start school…

Parents introductory meetings

There were two parents meetings, one in May and one in June, that we were told in November that we HAD to attend as they were mandatory.

Shortly after receiving the email confirming which school Miss NHM was going too, we received a letter in the post saying that the date for the meeting was now completely different. When we were on holiday. A holiday that I specifically booked so that we could attend the original two dates. I was not best pleased.

It the turns out that everything we were told at the November meeting has changed. Even the start and end of the school day has changed. We now also have home visits which we were told in November weren’t going to take place.

So, we missed out introductory first meeting with the school last week.

I found out, through telling someone about how unimpressed I was so far, that the headmistress has changed. Nobody told us.

Confirmation of start date

I finally got confirmation of when Miss NHM would be starting school this week. (I feel so sorry for those working parents who haven’t saved enough holiday so they can cover the childcare of those first three weeks of school when children do half days or whatever system their school has devised.)

We got back from holiday and I went in to pick up our “welcome pack”. It wasn’t a welcome pack at all. It was an envelope filled with 27 forms that need to be signed in blood. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic but I’ve since seen other schools “welcome packs” and the difference is dramatic.

A friend of mine very kindly let me read her “welcome pack” and the difference was staggering. Her daughters pack even had a letter from the teacher to the new starter, which was a lovely touch.

No such pleasantries in our “welcome pack”.

The first form I read, about pick ups and drop offs from school was like some kind of dictatorship letter.

For example: “Should a child not be collected by an adult by 4.30pm, the school will contact Children’s Services for support”.

Marvellous. So, if I get stuck in traffic, trying to get back from work to pick up Miss NHM from school, and there is nothing I can do about it, the school is going to call children’s services on us. Fantastic.

Oh and did I mention that you “MUST (their bold and capital) notify the school in writing and the note must be handed to the class teacher at the start of the school day” for any changes to pick up’s. Any changes at all.

There is also a very officious “school accessibility” form where you have to note any difficulties that your child may have had or will have during school.

I spoke to nursery about this and was told that they had ALREADY spoken to the school! Are they even allowed to do this?

My concerns

I’m not stupid, I get that there are rules in place for a reason, to protect our children, but these draconian letters just make me feel even more worried.

Now that I’ve compared what we received with a friends “welcome pack” I’m even more worried.

I’ve spent many years avoiding the nanny state that we currently appear to be living in and it’s been a bit of a shock at the rules and regulations that are going to be “enforced” on my family in September.

I’m also very worried that Miss NHM is going to be “labeled” and I will be devastated if that happens.

She is a bright, strong willed little girl and the state seems to be encouraging us to raise independent and ambitious girls. If this is the case, then why do I feel like she’s just going to be a number in a class of 30, where her real educational and development needs aren’t considered because the teachers have too many forms to fill in and not enough time to teach the children.

Settling in sessions

We have our first settling in session next Tuesday and I’m going to be keeping a very close eye out to see what happens.

(Interestingly, this is one of four, half our introductory sessions where sibblings are unable to attend. Four half an hour sessions. Really? So I’ve technically got to take four half days off work for half an hour? I’ve been warned that schools are less than sympathetic to working parents, but really, half an hour? By the time we get there, we will be coming back home again!)

I am really hoping that over the next few months my mind is put at ease but at the moment, I’m worried. Very worried…

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Google+,Facebook PageFacebook Profile, LinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

It’s Miss NHM’s 4th Birthday today!!

I am now the Mum of a four year old. Eeeeekkkk!!!!

A very opinionated, strong willed and determined four year old with a wicked sense of humour. (She gets the sense of humour from her Dad. No idea where she gets the rest of it from :-D.)

This also means that the NorthHantsMum blog is nearly four years old. Wow! That’s a LOT of posts. lol.

We are having a party tomorrow morning for Miss NHM and all of her friends. I won’t lie to you. It’s been a bloody nightmare to organise.

If I even so much as hint at having a big party for Miss NHM’s 5th birthday, will someone just slap me until I come to my senses :-D.

I’m sure it will all go swimmingly and Miss NHM will enjoy her “frozen” themed party and bounced castle that she demanded requested.

We also have another birthday party in the afternoon and two on Sunday.

I am going to need a lie down in a very dark room on Sunday evening! lol.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my amazing little girls birthday with her and watch the joy on her face when she see’s the surprises we’ve got organised for her today.

Happy 4th Birthday to my amazing, smart, beautiful, fantastic little girl who is the inspiration and drive for everything I do!

About Me

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Me at Machu Pichu in 2007

Today’s post is really going to annoy the person who provided feedback on the NHM Feedback Survey – Feb 2015 (it’s still available if you would like to complete it!) saying:

“Find the writer is on a bit of an ego boost at times.”

😀

About Me

There are a lot of new people who have started reading NorthHantsMum recently.

It’s totally awesome but it means that lots of people don’t know the back story to NHM.

I was talking to Liz at the NHM Spring Meet Up last week and she was asking me how NHM started and why it started. I realised I haven’t explained this for a while.

So, I wrote this post about a year ago and it explains why I write NHM and what I get out of it (which isn’t any money!!! lol):

About Me

You can also find it in the menu bar on the wordpress site.

You may also be interested in “About NHM” HERE and “Reader Endorsements” HERE.

As always, thank you very much for your ongoing support, especially to the person who is still reading NHM but doesn’t like me being on an ego boost! :-D.

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Facebook PageFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

Review 2014: Airkix in Basingstoke

Warning: These are the only photo’s that you will ever see of me on NHM :-D. 

I committed to myself at the beginning of the year, that this would be MY year. (and it REALLY has been. 2014 has been an amazing year for me!!)

As part of this I made a decision early on this year, that I would do a Sky Dive for charity in 2015. (A few people have been very critical of this as I’m a parent, but life’s too short not to take the odd risk now and then, whether you are a parent or not!!)

Next year is a “big” birthday for me (21 again!!!) and I would love it if my family and friends donated money for me to Sky Dive to raise funds for Sebastian’s Action Trust, instead of buying me a birthday present.

I wanted to try Airkix first, to see if I could *hack* a Sky Dive.

So, Mr NHM bought me an awesome birthday present, which I cashed in on Sunday.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and was a little terrified.

But…it was SOOOOOO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was so amazing that I have booked my Sky Dive, two days after Airkix! lol.

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Play

Once you have brought your Airkix ticket you need to book your slot online. During school holidays and weekends it can get very busy, so I booked at least a month in advance and then promptly forgot about it. DON’T DO THIS! Make sure you read the paperwork that gets sent to you at least a few days in advance.

When you arrive, you will need to complete a “Statement of Risk” disclaimer on the computer terminals. You are supposed to complete this at home, in advance, but I completely missed this bit. (Sorry Airkix!!!) It takes a bit longer than you would think because the keyboard has clearly been used many times before.

If you’ve had shoulder problems, you also need to confirm that you are ok to jump.

Once everyone arrives (I was dying of embarrassment that we were late), you then get taken upstairs to a room with a video and asked to watch the 5 minute video which explains everything you need to know and remember.

I was very pleased to see that I wasn’t the oldest person in the room. However, it was a little misleading as a few parents were sitting with their children and the parents didn’t actually jump. Sneaky!!!

The video covers quite a bit and I’m sure if you are younger and not so stressed about being late, you would take in a lot more. I tried to concentrate on the hand movements that you need to watch for, as you can’t hear or talk in the wind tunnel.

Luckily, I didn’t really have any time to become nervous. Once the video has finished, you then suit up.

You are given a lovely jump suit and helmet, goggles and then you can also have ear plugs. I wore these as I’m partially deaf anyway, so really couldn’t hear anything! lol.

Then, it’s time to go. You are taken into the ar-locked area of the wind tunnel and you sit on the bench. The other side of the wind tunnel are the spectators. I think this was the worst bit! Knowing that people were watching you!?!?!?!

I was 5th in the queue. It was fab watching everyone else, but this was the point where I started to get nervous.

When it was my turn, I could literally feel all of the spectator’s eyes on me. I was by far the oldest “girl” and I think they were expecting me to freak out of flake out. (I didn’t, I loved it and am REALLY proud of that fact! lol.)

Then, before you know it, it’s your turn….

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I didn’t realise how much you needed to concentrate. I think I just expected it to “happen”. It did happen but you need to make sure you were paying attention to the hand signals. It actually takes a lot of control.

I had two jumps of two minutes each. About 1.40 seconds into the first jump I had to get out. My back was KILLING ME! It’s not used to being arched in such a direction, so the instructor did two, one minute sessions next for me, rather than two minutes in one hit. This was much better.

I managed to do a 360 degree turn in both directions, went sideways and up and down. It was amazing how little movement was needed to move around.

In my last “jump” I was taken up and down the wind tunnel by the instructor. This was AMAZING and, despite grinning like an idiot and trying not too dribble everywhere, it was a real highlight. This is the bit that secured the Sky Dive booking for me :-D.

After everyone has done their jump and the photo’s have been taken, you then take off your gear and are given your certificates. I’m very proud of my certificate and it’s displayed next to the award I won for NHM earlier in the year.

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The instructor said I was a natural, which I’m sure is what helped my enjoyment, plus not having the time to get nervous in advance.

When you have finished you check out downstairs and have the option to buy repeat jumps at a reduced price.

Guess who knows what she’s getting for Christmas :-D.

Tips

Check your paperwork BEFORE the day of your jump. DO NOT do what I did and check it the morning of your jump, only to realise that you have to be there AT LEAST an hour before your scheduled time. We left the house in 7 minutes. This was the fastest time we have EVER left the house! lol.

(Thankfully, I was only 20 minutes late and the staff were lovely about it. We were THAT family though! I think if we had been 25 mins late, I would have lost my slot.)

Breath. I didn’t realise until after my first jump that I had been holding my breath. Nearly two minutes of holding ones breath is a long time. Make sure you breath!!!!

You will dribble. Not just at the “easy on the eye” Instructors ;-).

You will also ache the following day. Three days on and my stomach muscles haven’t quite forgiven me. So worth it though!!!!!

Leave your jewellery at home. It’s not recommended to wear it in the wind tunnel.

Non-participating children cannot be left alone, so make sure you bring someone along with you to watch them.

If you have long hair, tie your hair back as you don’t want it whipping around you in the wind tunnel.

Food

n/a

Facilities

Are excellent as it’s a very new facility. To be fair though, we didn’t do much exploring. Did I mention we were late? <blush>.

Baby Facilities

Not really sure, I was too excited to check these out.

Parking

Is free in Basingstoke Leisure Park

Prices

Are actually very reasonable for what you get.

There are also a few special offers that you can book on the day, for your next Airkix flight, which I may or may not have booked on the day because I loved it so much :-D.

Rating out of 5

10 out of 5. If only to prove to yourself that you aren’t JUST a Mum. 😉

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