I have a list of things to write about here, including Tory's ballerina-themed 3rd birthday party over the weekend, but first I want to capture the magic of Tory's first day of preschool.
Our girl ROCKED preschool yesterday! I am so, so proud of the way Tory conducted herself. No tears. No drama. Only smiles and laughter and fun, which is exactly what the first day of preschool should be for a (brand new!) three-year-old.
For the second year, we enrolled Tory in ECFE preschool through our school district. When so many of my parent-friends were going back and forth deciding where to send their three-year-olds this year, I confidently stood in my/our family's decision to enroll Tory in another year of ECFE. The struggles Tory experienced last fall in learning to separate from me are fresh in my heart, and I want to ensure school transitions - especially at this tender age - for Tory are slow and easy. I also remember the way Tory thrived in ECFE last year once she was comfortable with her teacher and learned the routine of school. I don't want a lot of "school" pressure on Tory right now. She has her whole life to be tied down to the classroom. And, that's why I like the ECFE format. It follows the school district's curriculum, but it's mostly play-based which is exactly where I think Tory's focus should be right now.
Last year, I enjoyed the format of our one-day-a-week ECFE class (some parent / child time together in class, then parent / child separation in different classrooms). Once we reached a point where Tory enjoyed school last year, it was refreshing to have a morning where she was my only focus. I spent 30 minutes of play time with her in her classroom without any of life's usual distractions (sharing my attention with Aden, catching up on laundry, preparing dinner, etc.) and I also had 45 minutes of adult time with other parents in a classroom setting where we learned about our children's development. I found the parent educational part last year to be both interesting and resourceful.
So, enrolling in ECFE again this year was a no-brainer for me. This year's classroom format is basically the same, except Tory will have two days of preschool each week versus one day. On Tuesdays, Tory and I will spend time together in her classroom (and Aden will go to the sibling care room), then we'll split into different parent / child rooms. On Thursdays, Tory will have preschool again and I'll simply drop her off at the door. On those days, I'm looking forward to having some quality time with Aden -- something we've rarely had together in his life as second born. My plan for Thursday mornings is to focus on Aden whether it be play time at home, taking him to the library, going for walks, etc., though let's be honest, I'm sure a few errands will slip into our time on occasion.
Tory's first day of ECFE preschool wasn't without hiccups, of course. For one, the preschool teacher (the same raved-about teacher who'd taught this class for years) accepted a kindergarten teaching position at another school ... last week. I'd prepped Tory about how great "Ms. Karen" would be, and how "Miss Ann" from last year would no longer be her teacher. Rookie mistake, Mom. I know better than to tell Tory too much information ahead of time because things - life - always changes. Surprisingly though, Tory didn't seem to care. "Ms. Janna" is her new temporary long-term substitute teacher until the preschool teacher position is filled. Things change and luckily, Tory wasn't phased a bit.
A few "red flags" for me were the class size (17 kids!) which is double the number of students compared to last year. Preschool yesterday was really overwhelming, even for me, having 17 children plus parents in one classroom. That's 40 people and 2 teachers (Miss Jana and a class helper), but who's counting? WOW. Fortunately, Tory wasn't too phased. She held onto my leg or my hand during the first part of class, but that's to be expected in any new situation. I'm hoping the overwhelmingness of it all can be chalked up to "first day" commotion and being the substitute teacher's first day. (I'm secretly hoping a few kids / parents transfer to the afternoon class to free up some space.)
I worry about Tory's young age and small statue in comparison to other kids in her class. She's the youngest child in her class (August 30 birthday for a September 1 classroom cut-off date), and I stress she'll be pushed around or dominated by larger and more mature kids. Yesterday, there was a boy literally twice the physical size (who I later learned turns four next month) who pushed over to where Tory was playing and snatched a toy out of her hand. I stood by and observed, and the boy's mom did step in to coach her son on not being such a big ol' bully, but I worry what'll happen when I'm not there. I should say in this situation, Tory was fine. She stopped what she was doing and gave the boy a crusty look as if to say, "Hey, what's your deal?" In my mind, I know Tory's a smart girl. She's tough. She's friendly and outgoing. I'm sure she'll get along just fine. But, as her mom, my heart can't help but worry about her. When the time comes, Andi and I may end up holding Tory back (I hate phrasing it that way) to start kindergarten when she's six (she still wouldn't be much older than kids in her class, but at least she'd be on the "older" end of the spectrum). I suppose that's one advantage to exposing her to school situations at a preschool age to see how she compares to other kids. Perhaps our ECFE experience will help Andi and I's decide whether to enroll her in kindergarten at an early age five or age six.
No surprise, I came here to jot down a few pictures and memories of Tory's first day of preschool and I left a book of ramblings. I guess I have a *few things* to say on the topic! It's only preschool, but I want the very best for my Tory Girl. I suppose every good parent wishes the same for their child. I hope Tory has a fun experience at preschool this year. I hope she learns new things, and makes new friends. I hope I learn ways to be a better parent. If the first day is any indication, Tory will do great. And if she's happy, I'll be happy too.