This term was an emotional back to school in the Whittle household – it’s Flea’s last year of primary school.
I’m not one of those parents that mourns their children growing up – I think Flea at 10 is about the most fun she’s ever been, and I love spending time with her, and seeing her growing independence and confidence.
And yet, and yet… I see those children going into the reception class and think, just for a moment, how wonderful it would be to be able to scoop Flea up in a big bundle the way I could when she was four year old. To see her making all those new discoveries again, for the first time – how to hold a pencil, how to button up her own coat, how to brush her teeth.
On Flea’s first day of primary school, I remember those chubby little legs, and how they looked so odd wearing long grey school socks, with shiny shoes at the end. Her pinafore – the smallest size we could find – was about three inches too long, and her newly trimmed fringe suddenly made my baby look all grown-up, even though it was just a few days after her fourth birthday.
I worried how she’d cope with such a long day. I worried that she was the youngest in the class. I worried if she’d be able to hold a pencil. Would the other kids like her? Would she be confident to ask for help if she needed it? Would she miss me? (no)
And now on her last first day, I’m struck by how tall she’s grown. Her skirt, that I thought we’d get two years’ out of, is now scraping the top of her knees. She’s wearing DM’s, desperate to look “cool” to her girlfriends. She’s on the cusp of a whole new set of changes. And as much as I’m looking forward, I can’t help looking back, too, and marvelling at how much has changed. And how much fun it all was, really.
Flea’s experience of primary education has been, above all, a happy one. It’s been a time of learning new things, including how to make friends, and get along with other people. It’s games, and lunches, and new friends, and learning to love books with a passion. It’s fulfilling her potential.
We’re so lucky to be able to take this sort of safe, high quality education for granted. It’s certainly not the case for children in every part of the world. Globally, there are 130m children in education who will reach year 5, but fail to learn the basic reading, writing, maths and social skills they need.
This autumn, Persil has teamed up with Unicef as part of a global initiative to empower children through education. As part of the campaign, Persil has created a video showing first days at school for children in other parts of the world – it’s definitely worth a watch.
The Persil partnership with Unicef aims to celebrate giving 10m children worldwide access to education. As part of the campaign, Persil is running a Photo-A-Week challenge. Each week Persil will announce a school theme on their Instagram page (@PersilUK) and ask you to upload your photo to Instagram. Just mention @PersilUK using that week’s competition hashtag. Today is your LAST chance to enter! Find details here.