I can’t quite understand what happened to the year. How is it possible that my twin boys will be graduating from prep tomorrow and breaking up for their summer holidays (it will never not feel weird to be finishing for summer in November). As the end of the year approaches, I thought I’d share a bit about our experience in an Aussie school.
We left the UK in September 2014, just before they were due to start school in Hampshire. They began kindy here in late October 2014 where they made some brilliant friends, then had the summer off before starting school in February this year. It has been a whirlwind, but they’ve adapted to the changes so well.
They adore their teacher and they come home buzzing with talk about everything they’ve learnt each day. They get on with everybody in their class and have some really great pals. Their teacher says they’re both so sociable and love everybody. I’m so happy that we chose this school – it’s just the most perfect fit for our family and I’m really excited that they can stay here right through until they leave.
Here’s a little insight into our school life in Australia:
They learn Chinese at school. There’s nothing weirder than hearing your five-year-old speaking Chinese when it doesn’t feel that long ago they were just learning to speak.
They don’t have cooked school dinners, even though it’s a huge school with catering sized kitchens – they still need packed lunch (or when they’re older, the tuck shop). And you aren’t allowed to use any plastic bags, cling film or foil on their food which involves a heck of a lot of little plastic tupperware tubs but it does make you feel like you’re helping the environment.
The list of foods you aren’t allowed to give your kids is pretty epic as everybody in Australia is more aware of allergies. Finding stuff you are allowed – that the kids are willing to eat – is pretty tough. Mostly they just seem to carry an apple around all day just to get it out of the house for a few hours.
They have ‘rest time’ in prep. They have their own pillow in class and they’re encouraged to take a short nap every afternoon. Even if they don’t want to sleep, they still have to lay quiet (T1 is constantly being put on the dreaded ‘reminder’ spot for talking during rest time). I think this really helps them not be so overtired at the end of the day. (Ditto at daycare/nursery – they set out a room full of little mattresses on the floor for all the kids right up to the age of five – it’s very cute to walk into a room full of sleeping toddlers if I pick E up early).
The high school kids come over to the prep classes once a week to read with the preppies. The preppies LOVE it and I’m sure it’s a great learning experience for the older kids. It also adds to the sense of community on the campus. My boys adore saying hello to the big kids as I’m walking them to their classroom, and the big kids always say “hi” back with a smile.
They do PE in their school uniform, and don’t get changed afterwards. Even when it’s really, really hot outside (i.e. most of the time in Queensland). I found this one a little bit weird. As they get older and wear a more formal uniform, they will come to school in their sports gear on the days they have PE but still don’t get changed out of it afterwards.
There’s a cafe on site. Seriously, a proper cafe serving proper, lovely coffee. And cake. And there are toys for the pre-school aged kids to play with. And it’s really great value. How amazing is that?!! I spend a bit too much time in there with the other school mums or even working on my laptop (the joys of having a location-independent job!)
They go on fantastic school trips and do great activities every term. This year they went to a farm and an aquarium on their trips. They’ve also just finished two-weeks of intensive swimming lessons which has helped them massively. As they get older there are some amazing charity trips they can take part in abroad too. When they move up to the high school they’ll be able to do rock climbing on site and can learn all kinds of practical skills from working in a full-sized theatre to actually getting their pilot’s license at the nearby airport (so I’ve been told). Seriously. OK that pilot license might cost a fortune for us if they wanted to go for it, but it’s amazing to know they have so many options open to them to suit whatever their interests.
There are koalas in the trees in the school grounds. You don’t get to see them that often, but it’s pretty special when you do. Especially when you see one with a baby. And on our way home from school we always see a couple of kangaroos in a field as we drive past too. This never, ever gets boring.
An amazing thing for us is that there is a daycare facility and kindy on site which E goes to, so technically you can send babies there right through to when they leave school. I love that there will be no fear of the unknown for my kids – I remember hating starting school as a child, and later I hated leaving my primary school to move up to secondary school. Here the kids will all go up a level together with their friends and they know their way around so there won’t be any weirdness. The only thing I think will be hard is that the classes get mixed up each year, so they won’t be with their friends in grade one. I guess the positive of this is that in a few years they’ll know everyone in their year really well. I think this helps create the feeling of community in the school.
I’m still in denial that my cute little preppies are growing into big boys. I recently got called to pick T1 up from school early as he had come down with a high temperature that was the start of the flu. He was in a bad way and could barely get up to walk to the car, so I picked him up. He might be a skinny little thing but I still didn’t make it far with him before I had to put him down and get him to walk leaning on me instead. The tiny little babies of mine are all grown up. I can’t decide if I’m excited that life with twins is finally getting easier or devastated that my babies don’t need me as much anymore. Sometimes I’d give anything to have them back as babies again. Just for an afternoon.
They’ve already started calling us “Mum” and “Dad” sometimes instead of Mummy and Daddy. T2 has been talking about girlfriends (he kind of has two, apparently). I know that if I blink too fast, they’ll be graduating from high school before I know it.
Please somebody tell me where that pause button is.
I’ve just finished writing a book about having twins or triplets from pregnancy through the first year. It has been a passion project that has been a few years in the making, and it will launch in DECEMBER. I’m SO excited. I’d love for you to subscribe to my updates so you can be the first to hear about it. And if you know anybody that is expecting multiples, please send them over to my blog too. My book has been written in conjunction with over 100 parents of multiples – it’s the book I wish I’d had when I was expecting my boys. I may not be able to go back in time to squeeze my squishy newborn boys again (or find that pesky pause button to keep them in prep for another couple of years), but hopefully I can provide new parents with some reassurance and practical information from our combined real life experiences. Sign up now and be the first to hear the launch date…