The only one

When my son started school 10 years ago, it seemed like a big and scary place. Not just for him, but for me. All those hundreds of pupils, the teachers we didn’t know, the parents we didn’t know… The year 6s seemed impossibly big compared to my tiny boy. Surely he would never be that big.

Perhaps down to the fact that I worked three days a week and wasn’t at school as much as most parents, I felt like we didn’t fit in there and weren’t really a part of it.

Fast forward three years to when my younger son started and, what a difference! Suddenly I had two kids there and the whole place seemed a lot less mysterious. We’d entered the juniors and were getting a much better feel for the kids, the teachers and the parents. At last, I felt like a proper school parent. I felt like we belonged there.

By the time my daughter started, we’d got it NAILED. A child in year 5, a child in year 2 and a child in reception, plus me a hard-working school governor. It felt like there were four of us at the school. No year group was more than a year above or below one of my kids’ year groups, so we knew everyone – the kids and the parents. I knew which teachers taught which class and knew them all by their first names. We really belonged there.

When my eldest left, we still fitted in. I had two kids there and was still a governor myself. With one child in the infants and one in the juniors, we had a pretty good handle on the whole school.

When we reached the dizzy heights of one in year 6 and one in year 4, and with me no longer a governor after five years of hard work, it felt like the lower school was slipping away from us. I no longer knew who taught in reception or year 1. Some of those teachers didn’t know my kids or me. But my son was head boy and my daughter was pretty well-known about the place. We still belonged.

And now we’re back to square one. Albeit with 10 years’ experience under our belts. My daughter is the only one.

School shoes, Daughter, School

Year 4s looks tiny to me. So do year 6s, in fact. I don’t know who teaches in reception and I don’t know so many teachers by their first names. We don’t know the little kids or their parents. For the first time since my younger son started school in 2008, I have no idea who the chairs of the PTA are. Our paths have never crossed. Their kids are so much younger. I miss the old year 6 parents, most of whom didn’t have a younger child. They left with their kids.

I loved it when we were all at the school, now it’s starting to feel a bit lonely again. I walk to school with just the one child and wait in the playground to pick her up on my own. My daughter will move on, just like her brothers did, and we will never have that lovely community feel in a school again.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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19 Comments

  1. It is a funny one isn’t it, I have had at least two children in our primary school since we started and this year I only have one. I’m working too now, so she goes to breakfast club and so I don’t see anyone in the mornings like I used to and I feel really lost. I don’t know what’s going on at school and I don’t seem to know many of the parents anymore, so I am completely with you on this one, it is very strange only having one there.

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    • It definitely is! It’s a really big change and you do feel like you don’t know anything or anyone any more. It’s even harder when you’re working and spending less time at the school.

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  2. I know how you feel, but from a different perspective – my older two both went to the same first school – so Betsy was a learning curve but when Max went I knew all the teachers and staff and all the classrooms and lots of the parents. Syd has just started and is at a different school because I moved house since the other two started. And I don’t know my way around or the teachers beyond his one. It’s strange getting used to a new school and this school is very different to the one the others went too. They went to a village school with one class intake each year, so it was easy to know everyone. Syds new school has 3 classes in each year, so I don’t think I will ever know everyone and everything in the same way – there are just too many people! Having said that I had parents evening yesterday and love his teacher to bits – she is fab, so while it is different am sure it is going to be just as good!

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    • Three classes per year! That is huge! My daughter’s school has two classes per year. Glad to hear he’s got a lovely teacher and it’s going well, even if it is very different from the previous school.

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  3. It’s such a weird feeling trying to fit in (as a parent!) It’s taken me til Y3 to feel I really know the place and that’s after joining the PTA and helping in class once or twice a week. I’ll really miss the school when my daughter leaves next year.

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    • Yes, it’s very hard to fit in as a parent! PTA is a good help, but it’s something I never wanted to do. I felt I would make a better governor than PTA member. Either way, it’s a good way of meeting people and getting to know the school better. I will be devastated when my daughter leaves 🙁

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  4. As you can imagine, I so related to this post. It ha felt odd just having one at school for the last two year and the head teacher didn’t even know my eldest. Most of the teachers have changed and I’m so ready to move on now. I’ve kind of mentally left but not physically. I tend to drive up and let him jump out, avoiding the playground banter where possible!

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    • That’s quite sad. I’m not ready to leave yet, but in another year, maybe I will be! We walk to school, so I can’t just kick her out, although I don’t walk in as far as I used to. There’s quite a slow turnover of teachers at our school, but there are a few now who don’t know my eldest.

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  5. I hadn’t really thought about this, but now that I do it makes me a little sad! I hope, if we stay where we are, that the transition will be eased by the fact it’s a small town and I’ll still see everyone anyway (there is only one middle and high school). But, it will start happening all too soon!

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    • That’s really nice that you have a clear path from one school to the next. Kids in my son’s class probably went to about eight different secondary schools! My eldest’s school is three miles away, but we have three schools closer to us than that, including my younger son’s grammar school. He went there with nobody from his school, but his best friend from another school went there.

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  6. We’re right at the start of this journey and I don’t really have a clue about anything yet. I’ve slowly started getting to know a couple of the parents but that’s about it, I have no idea who all the teachers are or even how the rest of the school entrances and exits are structured. Your post does remind me of my own primary school though…my two brothers and I were all there and it had a huge community feel to it as we knew everyone, my parents knew everyone and it was so lovely.

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    • It’s a weird feeling and I think it does take a few years for you to find your feet and really feel a part of it, unless you’re one of these people that likes to get involved n PTA etc right from the start, which I wasn’t! It’s good that you’re starting to get to know a couple of parents already 🙂

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  7. It’s werd how it all changes isn’t it? Jj has moved on to secondary this year and that fels odd and I’ve never really got tot he same level of knowlegde and friendship at this new school as I did at the old one where the kids started when they were 4. Mich x

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    • It must be unusual starting a new school and having to build up all that knowledge from somewhere in the middle of the school. It definitely feels odd when the kids move on to secondary. x

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  8. I know exactly what you mean and I know that I’ll miss the school wen my son follows his big sister to senior school next September!

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    • Too right! My daughter is in year 5 and I will really miss it when she leaves – we’ll have had kids at the school for 12 years by then.

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  9. I never even gave a thought about me being part of my kids school.I arrive just before the bell goes in the morning and arrive just as the doors open for them to come home.I help them with their homework and ask about their day but I’ve never given gone beyond that.I guess as long as my kids are happy, I don’t see any need to be involved any more than my kids want me to.

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    • That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of a parent who doesn’t feel a part of the school before – even if feeling part of it is just the feeling of loneliness and being left out that a lot of parents have. The school has been a big part of all of our lives for 10 years and I will miss it when we’re not there any more.

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  10. I kind of get this post Sarah. Whilst I feel that I know the head and some of the teachers really well (hubby is governor too), some of the newer teachers I have never spoken too. I remember the good old days when my son was in reception and we had a great social time as new parents. That has gone as the kids have got older and I kind of miss that. Like you I now have less than 2 years to go, as once they go to High School there is no hanging around the school gates chatting away xx

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