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I’m the Mama of three young kids and we live in London with my husband and two cats. I mainly blog about things that make children smile, get very excited, or find totally amazing … without taking up too much effort on your part!  I hope you enjoy …

Our Boy With Down Syndrome Starts School.

Our Boy With Down Syndrome Starts School

Exactly four years to the day after having Open-Heart Surgery and dithering about whether or not to delay starting school for a year or not, our boy with Down Syndrome started in mainstream school last Monday, along with all the other children of his age. He received funding for educational support from the Council and the school has put in the rest from their budget to ensure he has a full time TA.  Amazingly, his Keyworker from nursery applied for the job at the school and got it!  We feel so incredibly lucky to be in this situation and it’s certainly been a huge help to him while he settles in.

Wanting to be prepared, we thought we’d practise saying his teachers’ name out loud, with varying results. Rather than ‘Miss Constable,’ we got ‘Miss Constabum’ and rather than ‘Miss Plomer’, we got something that sounded more like ‘Umpalumpa…a rather good start I thought.

Feeling completely ready for the Big Day, I suddenly realised I’d forgotten to get him any uniform and had to rush into M&S with two days to go. The choices left for jumpers, were ages 9-10 yrs or 3-4yrs. Now he’s diddy, so I plumped for the latter, absolutely certain I could get away with it.

But then it ended up in the tumble dryer…

The morning started very well, he ate his breakfast and then ate some more and was in fact still eating his breakfast over an hour later, with only seven minutes until departure, IN HIS PYJAMAS.

12 seconds to take the obligatory photos. Him with a school bag 2/3 the length of his body on his back, looking like a turtle and me shouting ‘CHEESE!’ and we were off.

Except we weren’t.  He wanted to wear his school bag AND carry his packed lunch and he could barely walk under the sheer awkwardness of it all.  When I asked if I could carry his bags, he said a very firm ‘NO!’ and held on to everything all the tighter. I made a point of asking him in a loud voice just as people walked past us, because I knew they were thinking what a cruel mother I was to make him carry it all.

Having ripped him from his third bowl of cereal to shoe horn him into his clearly too-small-jumper, I decided he simply must still be hungry and had grabbed a fruit smoothie for him to have on the way. This ended up on his jumper, under my wedding ring and on my shoe.  Then I realised he hadn’t had a wee before we left, which for children that are in the vulnerable post potty training period, can be disastrous.  Praying he wouldn’t suddenly declare a call of nature, we actually reached the playground with 15 seconds to spare.

Having packed my suitcase ready to move into Reception with him, I was assured this wouldn’t be necessary and that parents are encouraged to say goodbye as soon as their child has found their peg, hung their coat up and settled into the classroom.

We didn’t even get that far, he barely acknowledged his peg and shot into the classroom without so much as a goodbye!

So, the report from the teacher at the end of his first day was that he’d settled in well, was integrating with the other children and had participated in all the activities BUT he’d really struggled with playtime.  Apparently he’d tried to run away when the bell rang for the older children to join them in the playground!  All credit to the school – they actioned a new plan with immediate effect to make sure he wasn’t in the playground during that time (but still with a couple of friends), with the aim of ‘weaning’ him on to a full playtime with the others as soon as he’s able.

Now for those of you who have followed our sensory journey, I was actually stunned and amazed that this was the only thing he’d apparently struggled with! How proud was I?!  He wasn’t in tears or clinging to me and he trotted in very happily the next day and for the rest of the week.

As the week went on, he was visibly getting more tired and generally a bit stroppy at home, but still his end of day reports are that he’s doing really well, is joining in and is a pleasure to have in the class.  We kept our ritual of pottering about in the park for an hour or so, LOTS of food and an earlier night than usual.  He’s coped brilliantly and a particularly proud moment was when his teacher told me how incredibly impressed she was that he knows all his phonics already.


Our eight year old said to me today, ‘do you know what Mum? Something made me so happy at school today. Every time I see him, he’s always got loads of friends around him who want to play with him.  Everyone loves him!’  I asked her if she was surprised and she said yes because neither she nor her other brother ever seem to be that popular!  I reassured her that

It’s still very very early days but so far so good (I shouldn’t have said that should I?).  I’ll leave it for a few weeks and post again with more of a ‘how the learning’s going’ update.


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  • MotherGeek
    September 25, 2015 AT 7:25 AM

    Hooray!! I’m so glad he’s settled in well! Sounds like he’s going to do brilliantly at school!

    • International Elf Service
      September 25, 2015 AT 7:42 AM

      He is but he’s soooooooooo tired!! x

  • Haidee@Maybe Baby Brothers
    September 24, 2015 AT 8:37 PM

    That’s wonderful! I hope school continues to go well for him 🙂

    • International Elf Service
      September 24, 2015 AT 10:48 PM

      Thank you lovely x

  • Alison
    September 21, 2015 AT 8:03 AM

    Such a lovely post. I’m feeling your panic at forgetting the school uniform though — my eldest has just started school this September , although she’s not full time yet; she has ASD so they’re settling her in slowly, but I’m pretty sure she could cope with full time so I’m a bit impatient. I’m getting the twitch because I don’t think she has enough trousers. Or jumpers. Or socks. Really lovely how well he’s doing. #brilliantblogposts

    • International Elf Service
      September 21, 2015 AT 9:06 AM

      Ooh I love your phrase ‘the twitch’! Will you be frantically washing ‘just in case’?? I’m so pleased she’s doing so well. Our school just starts them off full time straight away and some of the kids do struggle but mostly they’ve been ok I think.

  • martyn
    September 18, 2015 AT 11:36 AM

    Aw how lovely. I love how you write about the first morning difficulties. This seems the norm for any parent. Although it’s equally pleasing to see them rush in it is tough as it cuts you off wondering bit sounds like it’s going well and that’s what matters. And on a plus side you have popular children 🙂 #bigfatlinky

  • Silly Mummy
    September 17, 2015 AT 1:46 AM

    Sounds like he’s doing so well! How great to have got the TA from nursery as well. What a sweet comment from your 8 year old. I strongly suspect that, when my eldest starts school, she will be trying to eat 3 breakfasts first too! She tries it now! #brilliantblogposts

    • International Elf Service
      September 17, 2015 AT 1:21 PM

      Oooh do you think the breakfast thing is a conspiracy?? Thank you and yes we do feel incredibly lucky to have the same TA. It must be an incredibly unusual situation. xxx

  • Anne
    September 15, 2015 AT 11:17 PM

    First day at school is always much harder for the parents I think. I’m so glad he’s happy, I really hope he continues to be xx

  • Claire Louise Sheridan
    September 15, 2015 AT 12:00 PM

    What a little star. It must be hard for any mum on that first day of school, but I understand you must have had extra worries. So glad he has lots of friends – I genuinely think prejudices are an adult thing and it’s wonderful that these children are so open before they learn anything nasty from adults. I think the future generations look bright and I’m sure we can count on your son to be adding to that xx

    • International Elf Service
      September 15, 2015 AT 12:09 PM

      Thank you so much for your wonderfully kind and supportive comment Claire. Yes I really look forward to the future too though it can look a bit daunting from time to time. You’re right though – it’s the prejudices that make things hard, not our boy. xxx

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