The Things You Learn At School

 The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

Week one

This week, like for many children, will be my son’s first day of school. He’s very excited. He has been walking past the school and seeing the kids playing for two years now. He understands this is the next step for him.

The enormity of the educational journey he is about to begin has not escaped me. This year he will learn the numbers that, in 15 years’ time, he might be using to code his first app. He’ll be learning to put together the letters that he’ll eventually learn belong to just one of many languages.

I KNOW he’ll learn to read, I KNOW he’ll soon be able to write and do his multiplication tables.

These are my most basic expectations of the school.

What really scares me is what else he is going to learn while at school.

  • School is going to teach him that some people aren’t very nice.


  • It will teach him that, just because you are nice, doesn’t mean everyone will be nice to you.


  • He’s going to observe, and probably experience first-hand, that physical dominance can be an easy route to getting what you want.


  • Knowing my son, he’ll complain about the injustice of this and be told that he’s right, that we should behave respectfully. Then he’ll learn the frustration of behaving respectfully but not seeing an immediate reward for it. Hopefully he’ll learn patience.


  • He’ll learn how easy it is to judge people by their appearance and then experience the beautiful moments when these judgments are inverted.


  • He’ll experience the blissful joy of pure friendship and the togetherness of feeling like part of a group. Unfortunately, he’ll probably also learn the lows of betrayal or the loneliness of social isolation.


  • He’ll take emotional risks with people and learn why this is both an essential, rewarding, and yet potentially painful, thing to do.


  • He’ll try hard and see his efforts rewarded. Sometimes he’ll slack off and get away with it. I’m sure at some point he’ll slack off and be punished for it. He’ll balance these three columns of experience and begin to mould his own work ethic and character.

What will I do?

I, as his father, will sit at work between 9am and 3pm fretting about all these things. I’ll grill him over dinner and at bathtime for the slightest clue as to his day and what it contained.

I will need to adjust my, potentially over tight, grip on his development and place my trust in his teachers.

How do we not pay teachers a fortune? They shoulder the burden of guiding, not only my child, but 30 others through these life experiences in the hope of developing a respectful, nice, intelligent member of society, who can do his 8 times table AND ask for directions in French. That’s quite an ask.

So, Mrs Soon-to-be-my-son’s-teacher,

I’ve done the best I can.

Four and a half years of trying to instill positive thoughts and behaviour in this wonderful kid’s head have so far paid off. I’m very proud of the little man who will be entering your classroom this week.

I shall continue to do the best I can, every breakfast and every bath time, every weekend and school holiday, I’ll be all over this parenting thing like a semi-preachy dad blogger who massively over thinks things.

I’ll work in partnership with you to re-enforce the lessons he’s learnt that day and I’ll be diligent about how I can augment them at home.

But, now, between the hours of 9am and 3pm, every day of the week, it’s over to you.

Good luck, and thanks.

 The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

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