Posts filed under ‘parenting’
I knew it wouldn’t be easy to drop my little guy off at preschool. I expected a bit of separation anxiety and perhaps a few tears. After three straight years together I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would be hard to place my son in the arms of his teacher and walk away. I thought a lot about what my son might experience, but I didn’t realize how powerful my own emotions would be.
The first few days of drop off my son walked into the classroom with a smile, but I left the school in tears. For the record my husband found it pretty difficult to walk away too. The hardest part was leaving him behind when I knew he really didn’t NEED to go.
Unlike moms who drop their children off at daycare, my son doesn’t need to go to school twice a week for a few hours a day. While it certainly helps me complete invoices for my husband’s billing, prepare dinner, grocery shop in a third of the time and clean the house without little hands placing toys in front of the vacuum cleaner or broom, I could accomplish those tasks with him around. I didn’t enroll him for any of those reasons. I sent him because we couldn’t consistently schedule play dates with other kids and our neighborhood playground is void of children.
I don’t believe that three year olds require socialization, but I did think he would have a lot of fun exploring the world with other children beside him. After a ridiculous amount of contemplation, including investigating various school philosophies and costs I chose a preschool that offered the best experiences and opportunities for my son. Each week he sings along with a professional music teacher, cooks with the teachers and participates in tons of play based activities alongside eight other children with temperaments similar to his own.
He cried at two of the first five days of school, but the teacher assures me he is fine a few minutes after drop off. (Interestingly those tears did not come on the first two days of school.) Every school night he lays in bed and tells me all about the days adventures; what children he played with, what toys he discovered, what books he read, what songs he sang and which playground he explored.
Despite all of this I must admit that I still find it hard to drop him off. It’s only two days a week, but each morning I get a little sad at the thought of taking him to school.
The first few days I went shopping after leaving the school grounds and decided I really shouldn’t do that anymore. I quickly found myself adding toys and games to the cart that I never intended to buy. I wanted to provide something special for my son to look forward to after pick up. This started out as simple things like baking sugar cookies and taking him to the playground, but I quickly found myself purchasing unnecessary items from the clearance sections of Target. I didn’t buy anything that cost more than two or three dollars, but I believe guilt was factoring into my purchases more than anything else.
Tomorrow is another school day. I will head home after drop off and do not plan to perform any shopping other than buying groceries for at least the next month.
Believe it or not I still haven’t settled on a preschool for my son. I began contemplating the preschool versus no-preschool option at the end of last year and visited a few open houses in January. I applied to two schools in our area and my son was accepted into both.
Initially I wavered on the idea of sending him to school at all. I really enjoy my time at home with him and I certainly don’t want to kick him out of the nest any sooner than necessary, but there are not a lot of children in our neighborhood to play with during the day. The majority of kids attend daycare or preschool, so on most days my son and I are the only ones at the playground. I’ve tried to set up play dates with other kids, but they tend to fall through more often than not and while I do not believe formal socialization is necessary I do think it would be nice for my son to make a few friends his age.
So I’m pretty certain I’ll send him to preschool in the fall and I narrowed my choices down to two very different options. The first, is a co-op, which requires fund raising, school cleaning, mandatory meetings and regular interaction in the classroom. While I’m not a fan of fund raising or cleaning I do like the idea of attending school with my son. He tends to be very timid around other children and I think it might help to enter the world of school with me close by. The school does not require forced separations, which means I can stay every day if he is not ready for me to leave the classroom.
The second option is a traditional preschool located in a church near my home. This school is within walking distance which means we could walk to and from school on nice days. The overall class size is slightly smaller; 9 children and 2 adults, versus the co-op which contains 12 children supervised by 1 teacher and 2 parents.
The major downside of the traditional preschool is that they have a drop and cry policy, which means you give your kid a big kiss on the first day of school and say goodbye. I have a feeling that my son will cry during his first week or two as he is very attached to me and I’m not certain that I can stand the sight of those tears or the fear he might feel in leaving me. As I mentioned above the co-op never forces you to leave your child and you can stay as long as they need you in the classroom. I believe the experience overall will be better for my son in the traditional setting, (once he gets through the tears), but this policy is causing me to lean towards the co-op model.
The traditional preschool is also in session longer each day; 4 hours versus 2.5 for the co-op. The majority of that hour includes lunch. My son will only attend two days a week this year which amounts to an extra 3 hours of school. Three hours doesn’t seem like a ton of time this year, but next year the difference would be 7.5 hours at the co-op versus 12. Again I’m not certain that I want to spend more time away from him as I really do enjoy our time together.
Having said all of that I do believe the traditional preschool would offer more for my son. They have a weekly storyteller come to their classroom and a weekly music class taught by a local teacher/performer. I believe they travel on more field trips and have indoor and outdoor playground equipment so they can be physically active regardless of the weather.
Looking forward I also think my son will gain more from his experience in the traditional school. The teachers in the three and four year old classrooms are very engaging and excited to teach the students and explore with them. The classrooms are bright, colorful and inviting.
At two and a half my son is already learning to sound out words and read. He can spell his own name and ten or so other other words, so I’m not concerned about the educational aspects of preschool, though I would like to see him engage in new and challenging experiences as he ages. At two I think of preschool like a big playgroup at three he may be able to attain more from his experience there.
Everything in my heart is telling me to choose the traditional preschool, but the fact that he will probably cry is pulling me towards the co-op model because it won’t force him to separate from me until he’s ready.
My very first memory as a child is crying in preschool and I’m certain I’m pushing some of my fears and phobias onto his first few days and weeks there. I see in him the timid child who doesn’t want to leave his mommy and as a mom I’m not so certain I’m ready to leave him either.
I’d love to hear comments. Any advice or wisdom? I’m really struggling to decide.
Before I had children I didn’t understand just how different every child’s development timeline can be. Have you ever wondered why one child is so difficult to understand when the child next to him can speak so clearly? Why a boy is such a neat eater when his sister is so ridiculously messy? Or why it takes some children nine months to walk and others nearly twice as long?
Since my son was born I’ve quickly learned that all children have their own timeline for learning. My son learned to stand and cruise the furniture at six or seven months and to walk not too long thereafter. He can climb jungle gym equipment like a child twice his age and has fine motor skills that rival adults, but until the last few months he spoke very little.
Just like adults children have specific skills and desires. My son has an amazing level of concentration for his age. He’s also very good with puzzles and solving problems, but take the kid to art class and he’d rather count crayons and scissors than color. While all of the other children are making shapes out of play dough my son gathers up the tools and cookie cutters and figures out how they make shapes and designs. He’s more interested in how a toy works than the flashing lights that appear on the front of it. He’s the kind of child who wants to turn on all of the switches in a room and push on all of the buttons on the remote.
As he grows I’ve come to understand a lot more about him and surprisingly about myself too. The first few times I took him to art class I wanted him to paint and color. He put a crayon in his hand and made a few lines and circles on the paper, but after a couple of minutes he grew bored of coloring. So he started listing the colors of the crayons and picking up and holding the scissors. At first I urged him to put the crayon to paper, but it was clear he had a different agenda. He looked at me as if to say, “Yup mom all done coloring. I’ve moved on. Why haven’t you?”
I must admit it felt strange to watch all of the other children involved in the activity when he was clearly working on something else all his own. But then I stepped back from the situation and thought, “What am I stressing over. This kid isn’t even two.”
As adults many of us sit in a box we cannot escape from. We go here and do this and expect that. Why would I go to an art class and not paint a pretty picture? But the real interest isn’t always in the art itself. As my son has found a good deal of fascination is with the tools that create it.
I’ve come to learn that my little man sees the world through eyes all his own. There is no need to push him or change his ways, at least not at this juncture in his young life.
I hope that he remains a little engineer. That he looks at the world and questions how things work and how to make things go faster. Although he’ll need to obey his teacher and pass his tests at some point in time I hope he continues to think outside of the box, at least just a little.
The world is full of children who create a picture when you hand them a crayon, but how many of them ask how the crayon was created? My little guy isn’t old enough to ask that question yet, but in time I’m certain it’s the type of question he’ll be asking.
Before my son was born I intended to blog every week about his growth and development. At fourteen months I’ve written a total of 11 posts.
I intended to make sugar cookies from scratch and bake two big batches for the grandparents this weekend. Instead I bought a roll of cookie dough from the grocery store and made a total of 6 cookies.
I have every intention of making it to the playground every afternoon, but some weeks I don’t make it there at all.
I intended to wash my son’s clothes in eco-friendly baby detergent, but some days I wash all of our clothes together and just toss in the regular soap.
I had every intention of feeding my son an organic diet, but suddenly realized I’m feeding him non-organic cottage cheese.
When my son turned one I intended to write down everything he learned in his first year. You know, how he can point to his toes, clap, wave bye-bye and all that other fun stuff. Well I managed to write it down, but then somehow lost the piece of paper I wrote it down on.
When my son wasn’t sleeping through the night a friend told me to let him cry-it-out. I wrestled and worried about her advice for days. Should I coddle him? Should I console him? Should I leave him to cry? If I let him cry will he grow to hate and resent me? If I rock him to sleep will he want to be comforted before bed for the next 18 years?
My worry was unfounded. Ultimately I left him in the crib and found he didn’t cry at all. He fussed for just a few minutes and fell asleep. All that worry was for nothing. He was perfectly fine.
I am a perfectionist at heart. As a child I felt utter disappointment at any grade other than an A+. As a first-time mom I want everything to be perfect. I want to do everything just right. I love my son so much that I don’t want to disappoint or damage him. I don’t want to do anything wrong.
I keep having to remind myself that motherhood isn’t graded. The Facebook pictures I see of mom’s baking cookies with four immaculately dressed children are unbelievably impressive, but those moms aren’t me.
In truth I want my son to know that we all make mistakes. That no one is perfect and that we should not pursue perfection at all. I would give anything to tell my former self to relax. That I was good enough. That I didn’t need straight A’s. If you spend all your time trying to be perfect you’ll never be yourself. Your life will never seem worthy enough, the goal of perfection is simply unattainable.
Above all else I want my son to know that I love him more than I ever could have imagined loving another little soul and that every decision I make and every action I take is being made to the best of my ability.