At the beginning of this year Theo joined Stagecoach in Chichester as a blogging ambassador, although I didn’t realise it at the time, he was also one of the youngest pupils they’ve ever had, starting there at just 4 years and 4 months old.
The first week did not go well. Jim spent most of the lesson with Theo clinging to his legs refusing to take part in anything, or let him leave the building and after an hour and a half they both came home with Jim looking defeated and like the whole thing was the worst idea ever.
Four months on we see a very different child every weekend. After a 4 week break over Easter, Theo was positively bouncing off the walls with excitement as he counted down the days to the start of the new term and although his Gro Clock normally keeps him bound to his bedroom till 7am, on the day that term started, he came bouncing in to our room at 6 in the morning barely able to contain his glee, telling us “It’s Saturday. It’s Stagecoach!”
Our Saturdays now revolve around his Stagecoach session… by choice it should be added! A fortnight ago when we had a party to go to in the evening, a haircut, the vets and other errands to run, the logistics of what could be achieved kept returning to Theo not missing his hour an a half in Chichester. We achieved it all in the end, but my haircut nearly got cancelled ahead of Stagecoach!
What exactly goes on in those Early Stages sessions is probably a bit of a mystery to some of the parents of kids Theo’s age. We all arrive at the start of the class, the kids put on their “jazz shoes” (a phrase that still makes me chuckle) and then all line up neatly in front of the teacher. When they are quiet and ready, they march off down the corridor to their classroom and us parents go home (or to the Tesco cafe!) before returning 90 minutes later to take the jazz shoes off and drive home.
At the beginning Theo managed some pretty generic answers in the car on the way home about what they had been doing Singing? Yes… Dancing? A bit… But in his second term we’ve had him telling us everything in detail. We know that they aren’t doing a production at the end of this term, but instead they’ll be doing a big Christmas show at the end of next term and he wants to invite his friends from school to come and see it, a list is being written! Last week was his teacher’s birthday, he hadn’t bought her a card, but he was going to make her one for this week instead.
Last term I also filmed the kids during their session to make a video you can see here and was in the very privileged position of being able to watch a whole process for myself. Theo’s teacher is brilliant. Strong, authoritative, but lovely and warm too. She’s been doing it for years and you can see that the children really like and respect her. The class I saw was made up of rehearsing and game playing. They are all activities that get the kids moving around, thinking and interacting with each other.
As I’ve watched Theo’s enthusiasm grow for the classes, I’ve also realised it has another benefit for him. It’s a special time at the weekend that is just about him and not about his sister. Sibling rivalry has not yet reared it’s head, but I think the time he has which is focused on getting him ready and driving him there and back, really helps with that.
In a few weeks time I’m going to be filming some of the parents and pupils higher up in Stagecoach and I’m really looking forward to sharing the video and their stories with you, so please keep an eye out for that post…