Tuesday, September 27, 2011

School Time

Lilian started pre-school this year.  The plan was to send her to this super awesome private school (on the scholarship we were hoping to score) because a relative of ours has an "in."  But the relative flaked, and time slipped away from me... and suddenly it was September and Lilian wasnt registered for school!  My fault for counting on someone else, his fault for making promises he had no intention of keeping.  Anyway, so i called around.  One school had a 15 kid wait list, one never called me back, and one said they had a few spots left... so i said i'll take it!  I had taken Lilian to a ballet class at the facility before, so i had toured the building and seen the nursery classroom before.  It's a new and beautiful facility.  They also do after school programs for kids and teens, daycare, dance/yoga classes, birthday parties, etc.  It is reasonably close to where i work which makes drop off/pick up simpler.  And the price wasnt too outrageous.  So i got Lilian an appointment for a physical the next day at her pediatrician, filled out the paperwork, gave a deposit, and she started school 4 days later.  Last minute, but it all worked out.

Of course we all had concerns about the first day of school, but i think she had a good concept of "school" from TV.  We hyped it for a week, took her to pick out a new lunchbox (an adorable Scooby Doo one), and the first day arrived.  She had never been left alone anywhere except a friend/relative she knows well for babysitting, so this was a first.  I didnt know whether or not to expect tears or what.  (BTW, in case you didnt know, she turned 3 on August 13.)  I brought her into the classroom, set her down with a teacher, and said "Mommy has to go to work, i'll be back after school to pick you up."  She stared at me like a deer in headlights, completely frozen in fear.  I hurried out and when i looked in the window 2 minutes later, she was still frozen.  But no protests and no tears.  When i came back a little over 4 hours later, she was excited to show me the classroom, and she cried because she had to leave.

She's in her 4th week of school now.  She's going 3 days a week, from 8:45-1PM and she has lunch there.  The first three weeks, she cried every single day when i picked her up.  And not a little.  Full on meltdowns, and i had to carry her out... while carrying the 25 pound one-year-old i take care of too.  Not fun.  She'd protest "no home" and "don't take me."  Way to make me feel awesome, Lilian.  Some of the kids stay until 5-6PM (and some leave at 11am) so it's not like everyone is leaving.  I promise her she'll be back, the teacher walks us to the door and gives Lily hugs and kisses, still hysterics.  It must partially be that she's overtired, because in th 15-20 minute drive to drop her off at home, she passes out.  She is NOT a morning person.  Still, it's been rough.

Last Friday though, Missy broke the cycle by sending me with a $1 plastic zebra in a bag... a "surprise" if she didnt cry.  Well, she was hesitant to leave, but no crying, and she got her prize.  And yesterday, the first day of week 4, she carried her own lunchbox to the car, and no crying!  Hopefully, it'll "stick" because the 3x a week tantrums were getting exhausting.

Though, it is great that she loves school so much!  She waves over her shoulder (if she remembers) running into the classroom when i drop her off.  And school has become a bribe too.  "You have to come grocery shopping and be good, because we need lunch food to send you to school with."  And you must shower even though you dont feel like it now... if you wanna go to school, etc.  She normally protests being woken up, but if it's for school, she gets up early.

I only have one concern about the school.  I wonder how academic it is (vs. more of a daycare situation).  They send home weekly curriculums and daily schedules, but when i drop her off, it's playtime and when i pick her up, the full day kids are going down for naps.  Lily is not great about answering questions, so i really have no idea what really goes on during the day.  She did 2 cute art projects... one was footprints in paint back to back, with popsicle stick and pipe cleaners to make a butterfly.  One was a painted hand/armprint to make a family tree... then stamps around it for her family members with everyone's names.  I walked in on story time once.  But beyond that, i have no idea.  The facility has an outdoor playground, and indoor inflatable bouncy castle/slide, gymnasium, games, a blacklight disco dance room they use, etc.  So i assume theyre doing lots of various activities, but i just kinda wish i knew what.  And learning... she can recognize her alphabet, 1-13, sing the alphabet and count 1-13.  But i would like for her to learn to spell her name, start writing, drawing, etc.  I have no idea how much of that goes on/will go on.  Another issue, is that you can choose which 2 or 3 days your kid goes... and some kids leave at 11, some at 1, some at 5-6... so it's a different mix of kids each day.  Also, there seems to be only one class... there is a birthday chart and i'd say about 9 of the 13 kids were born in 2008 like Lily, but two were born in 2009, one in 2007, and one seems to be only 18 months old!  I know traditional schools do NOT mix ages in the class.  So in those two ways, i guess it's more daycare-like... though they claim it's "pre-school" and they do have lessons, etc.  I think the building is fairly new, and this program is extremely new, so maybe it's still in development.  She is getting independance and socialization so that's important, i just worry that there's not enough learning.  Then again, it's only 4 weeks in so we'll see.  I wonder if there are parent conferences or something.  We pay by the week, so it's not like i'm locked in... but i also hate to switch schools since she loves it so much.

Some funny feedback I got, is that Lilian is trying to kiss the other kids.  I guess I have the kissy kid.  Not sure what to make of that...

All in all, though, it's been a really positive experience for all of us.  I'm so proud of her independence and social skills (she can be shy, so i am so glad she's blossoming in a situation with out us present).  I hope the school doesnt disappoint and she brings home more cute projects! 

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