Giaan Rooney writes: "The two questions I keep being asked about my son starting school."

Oh my goodness my first born, Zander, starts school this year. My not-so-little man is ready and rearing to go to ‘big school’ because that is clearly the way to becoming a ‘big boy’ and that is all Zander has ever wanted to do – grow up.

Isn’t it funny that when you tell people that your child is starting school, you get two questions in quick succession?

“Oh is he excited or nervous about starting school?” and “are YOU nervous about him starting school?”

I can completely understand this line of questioning because a child starting school brings up a lot of different emotions… how is my baby all grown up? Where has the time gone? Will they have friends? Will they be bullied? Or worse, will THEY be a bully?

I am actually not nervous about Zander starting school at all. He is so ready to wear his uniform, pack his backpack and see what all the fuss is about that he hasn’t wanted to go to daycare all week.

I’m not worried about him coping with the long days because he hates being picked up from daycare until they are closing. I’m not worried about him making new friends either because he’s certainly not shy (wonder where he gets that from…). He’s also very capable of coping with new surroundings.

I have no concerns about what he will learn or if he will require extra help. Although I have heard that kids are learning computer coding in Year One. So I am concerned I’ll have to go and do a TAFE course to help him with his homework.

Of all the emotions and thoughts running through my head as this milestone approaches, one is front and centre. I want him to learn inclusiveness… something I feel strongly about. So much so it’s the cornerstone theme in my children’s book ‘Lemon the Llama’.

Of course I want him to enjoy learning. To be curious about the world around him and to have some drive and ambition. But I really want diversity, empathy and kindness to be what he develops this coming year.

With the current state of the world, I can only hope and do my small bit with my offspring to help them understand that we are all human and we are all different. But it is our differences that make us special.


I’m sure we all remember our own school days where friendship groups were formed almost innately. Were you one of the ‘cool kids’? One of the ‘smart kids’? Or one of the kids that just didn’t fit in? And how does your school history affect what you want for your child and their school experience?

I was fortunate that I had a great school experience (not without challenges) and I still regularly catch up with my friendship circle nearly 20 years later. I hope that will be the same for my kids.

So, as my ‘big boy’ heads to ‘big school’ I am excited and prepared for whatever this year has in store for us. But I don’t have any expectations (other than his lunchbox coming home completely untouched).

I’m sure there will be good days, hard days, exciting days and not-so-exciting days. But for his sake I hope he doesn’t come home saying he hates school because that will make for a looong 13 years ahead!

Giaan’s new book, Lemon the Llama is available now on interactive children’s reading app Kindergo and in print. Visit for details.

There are two types of mums when it comes to back-to-school shopping. Which one are you?

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