Leaving primary school during a pandemic

A blog about finishing primary school in an unprecedented time; emotional endings, new beginnings and silver linings.

End of an era

Yesterday the Tween walked home from primary school for the last time, making an emotional phone call to me on the way. Apparently everyone in his socially distanced ‘bubble’ had spent much of the day weeping.

Within ten minutes he was home, WhatsApping his friends and making arrangements to see them during the holidays. He’s a sociable boy and I’m confident he’ll stay in touch with them and make many new friends during his next chapter.

A blog about finishing primary school in an unprecedented time; emotional endings, new beginnings and silver linings.

How to leave primary school during a pandemic

I’m so pleased M had the chance to go back to school, albeit briefly, at the end of this term. His class was split into two ‘bubbles’ and returned to real-life classes three weeks ago. But because of Coronavirus, they didn’t have the chance to put on a school production, and many of the other planned activities were scaled down or cancelled.

There was a socially distanced, slightly subdued ‘prom’ followed by a picnic in the park, where the kids went feral and the parents got drunk. And then it was over.

Like so many children, they have been denied a proper celebration and rite of passage.

M’s emotions about leaving primary school are inextricably linked with anxiety about starting secondary school. There have been none of the usual transition days this year to ease them into their new environment. Our local secondary is an outstanding school and is the reason we moved here nine years ago. But it’s huge, sitting on a 20-acre plot and with a ten-form intake. That’s a big change for an 11-year-old.

A blog about finishing primary school in an unprecedented time; emotional endings, new beginnings and silver linings.

The parent experience

M isn’t the only one feeling all the emotions. My social life in this part of North London consists entirely of the parents from my two kids’ primary school classes. No longer will we meet on the way to school, or giggle in the back row of their assemblies and school productions.

Of course, we will still socialise, but those moments that bound us together are now only memories.

The Teen is going into year 10 in September, so we have experience of secondary school parenting, and it’s very hands-off. He makes his own social plans and the occasions for parents to meet through the school are few and far between.

Silver linings

Let’s look on the bright side. Primary school has given us so much. For example:

  • An amazing community of parents, close friends who continue to support each other.
  • A group of friends for our kids who will always have a special place in their hearts.
  • Caring, dedicated teachers who took a random group of kids of different abilities and equipped them with the skills and knowledge to succeed in secondary school.
  • Experiences our kids will never forget, including three residential camps and multiple cultural day trips.

And there are a few things I will NOT miss about primary school:

  • World Book Day, in fact, any event which required a costume. Need I say more?
  • Being a class rep. The same group of parents always did the heavy lifting. I was a class rep three times and will not miss the hassle.
  • Making packed lunches.
  • Sports day. Sorry, I sound like a proper curmudgeon. Sports day always took place on the hottest day of the year. The school fields offered no shade. I hated standing in the blazing sunshine watching my son throw a beanbag into a hoop.

The days are long but the years are short

It’s a cliché but so true. Our kids are growing up and becoming more independent and that is something to be celebrated. However, it’s also a reminder of the limited time we have left with them before they fly the nest.

It’s the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one. Now we have six weeks of school holidays to enjoy. Due to the economic crisis, I don’t have any work so can spend time with the kids. We have a couple of short breaks planned in England, starting with a few days in Devon. I yearn to see the sea, so that’s our next stop.

If your kids have reached a big milestone this term – end of GCSEs or A-Levels, or University, I’d love to hear from you. How are you all feeling? Please leave me a comment below or email me@lifestylemaven.co.uk.

Stay safe. Wear a mask (please!).

Much love, Vx