Parenting · Special Needs

Tugging at the heartstrings – starting school part 2

Following on from my post a few weeks ago when I was getting ready for my darling girl to start big school here, I fully intended to write a few posts on the whole starting school phenomenon. However because of a sizeable glitch in proceedings (of which more in another post) I have not had time to do them, so I’m belatedly returning to the topic.

And here we go….. so our amazing wee girlie is 6 now and has recently started big school. In her case its special school – more of that in a future post – and she seems to be settling in really well. Her educational/separation from Mum journey began with two mornings a week with a childminder which she took to really well aged 3. A few months later she started attending a nearby mainstream preschool where she had the help of a lovely preschool assistant (essentially an SNA). F adored her time here and I loved how happy she was and how completely accepted she was by all the children there. Although the first day she had her new wheelchair there (a couple of weeks before Christmas that year) a couple of the other girls asked their Mums could they have a chair just like F’s for Christmas – oops!!

She stayed at the preschool for 2 years and on her last day both her SNA and I were in floods of tears. My heartstrings took a pounding that day! Her majesty on the other hand was perfectly happy. She has always taken to change really well thankfully.

During the last year at preschool she started attending a special needs pre-school unit two days per week. Again, she settled in very well, it was more of a challenge for her this time as she was there for a longer day and was mixing with children who also have special needs. But true to form F just took it all in her stride.

September last year she started attending the unit 5 days a week and travelling there by bus so this was a big big change. You won’t be surprised to learn that she met it all head on and bounced merrily along. While I was quite used to her being away at this stage (and loved every minute of it!!) the first day on the bus was fairly emotionally challenging for me but I didn’t realise just how much until the driver rang me after leaving her at the unit. He told me she’d been singing on the bus all the way and was in great form. I thanked him for ringing (it was such a nice thing to do) hung up the phone and promptly bawled. A cuppa and biscuit later and I was grand.

So I figured the old heartstrings had toughened up pretty well. F had a great year, made some really good progress and all was set for her to start big school. There were some very special moments during the year – seeing her go horse riding was one, some of the artwork and photos that came from the unit were lovely, I will admit to a wobbly lip when she rang some bells (with help) when the Garda Band came to the unit to entertain us all for family fun day. But nothing too hearttugging.

But then on her final day at the unit they had a party and there were presents for the children moving on to big school. And she came home on the bus tired and grubby but very happy with a big bag of goodies. Amongst them was this picture

Grad photo Bailis

and the heartstrings gave the most almighty lurch. My baby girl is growing up and moving on to another era, another episode and lots more challenges. And guess what? She’s facing them all head on.


2 thoughts on “Tugging at the heartstrings – starting school part 2

  1. I’ve been reading through a few of your posts and I was hoping we could talk through email. My husband and I just found out on 2/17 that our yet to be born daughter has DWS. I must say it is hard to find a mother or mothers to talk to, I’m having difficulty finding support groups. I have a million questions that I hope you might have time to answer. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Christa

      I am SO sorry I’ve only seen your message now. My heart goes out to you both, we have been on that journey and yes it is hard to find people to talk to. By all means feel free to email us, its We live in Ireland so a different health care system but the issues worries etc around DWS are the same.

      Hope to hear from you
      With all good wishes to all three of you,
      Tracey x

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