First-day jitters

First day for all ... Bridget O'Brien's first child, Sienna, is starting kindy in February. Photo: Helen Nezdropa
First day for all ... Bridget O'Brien's first child, Sienna, is starting kindy in February. Photo: Helen Nezdropa 

A student starting year 7, a first-time teacher and a new kindy parent come clean about their first-day nerves, writes Jane Southward.


The new kindy parent

Bridget O'Brien is embarking on a new stage in parenting on February 1.

O'Brien, 41, the deputy general manager of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, will be sending her elder child, Sienna Harris, 4, to Cammeray Public School on Sydney's lower north shore.

Her son, Henry, 3, starts preschool the same week.

“I'm a bit nervous about it all because she has been in such a lovely, community-based preschool where everyone knows each other and now she'll be going to a school with seven kindergarten classes. It seems so big by comparison," O'Brien says.

I know there'll be tears on the first day – not from her, but from me.

“My biggest worry is the playground. Will she find her way? Will she recognise anyone? The girls look so small in their long dresses and huge hats. It really is hard to recognise anyone. They all look the same.

“We're lucky because Sienna is an adaptable child and she's easygoing. She's been to the school to see her cousin and for orientation day and the school fair and we've had to put the uniform away because she's been wearing it so much already. She seems pretty relaxed about it all.

“I know there'll be tears on the first day – not from her, but from me. It's a new stage in my life and time for me to make new friends as well.”


The year 7 student

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Sophia Elliott, 12, starts high school at Avila College in Mount Waverley in Melbourne on February 1. She is the only child from her primary school starting at the school.

“I think the hardest part will be the organisational skills I will need to learn. I'll be taking the train to school, which is a new thing, but I hope I'll meet friends that way. It's only a five-minute walk to the school from the station.

“I'm excited more than nervous. I think it will be a big adventure starting at such a great school with so many activities and clubs. All the students start in year 7 so we will all be new.

“I think I will miss the boys at my primary school because Avila is an all-girls school. But I have met all the girls in my class and they all seem really nice. I'm going to sign up for lots of activities so I can make friends.

"They have debating groups, music classes, a drama club and a climate change action club. If I don't find friends out of 200 children there's got to be something wrong. We have a friendship day when you wear casual clothes and do games and then there's the year 7 camp. We're going to Phillip Island which sounds great.

“We looked at a lot of schools and this one just seemed perfect for me. On the first day I am going to smile a lot and be really happy.”


The first-time teacher

Dominique Goode, 26, will take over her first class as a teacher on February 27. Four of her 27 young students living in Sydney's west speak little English.

“I worked part time after school because I didn't know what I wanted to do and then I thought that it was in the classroom that I felt happiest so I decided on teaching.

“I studied at the Australian Catholic University Strathfield campus and this is my first full time job. I'll be teaching kindergarten at Sacred Heart Villawood.

“On the first say I'll meet them in the playground, show them around the classroom, see them say goodbye to mum and dad, hopefully with as few tears as possible. After that we'll look around the school and find the things they need to know such as the toilets and the canteen.

“I'll watch to see the children learn to put up their hands to answer questions, knowing they feel comfortable enough to have a go even if they get it wrong. The most nerve-racking part will be meeting all of them at once.

“I'll get paid about $46,000 a year but in teaching it isn't about the money. It's about the children learning and watching them grow. I know it's up to me now. It's exciting."