After a few months of going back and forth and weighing the pros and cons we decided it was time to enroll L in preschool. First of all, we want him to be as prepared as possible when it comes time for him to start kindergarten and first grade. Second, he is soooo social and we knew it would be good for him to have some structured playtime with other kids his own age. And Thirdly, we felt like we had hit a bit of a wall as to what we were able to teach him at home. We work on all the basics: colors, numbers, letters etc., but between just daily chores and activities, and chasing around a now very mobile one year old, we don't have a ton of time to dedicate to just learning.
After doing a ton of research, and touring several different options, we finally found a school that both S and I love. I knew I wanted a Montessori approach, but the Montessori school I looked at had astronomical prices, and I knew I wanted something that was structured and an actual school environment. I didn't want to put him in a place that called itself a "preschool" but was actually just a "daycare". He can play at home with me, I wanted him to be someplace where, yes, he would play and have fun, but also where he would be learning.
We finally settled on a place called Wirtzies. They practice the Montessori approach but were also super affordable. I loved all the staff and teachers that I met right away. The have a top notch security system (I hate that I even have to worry about that, but with all the school shooting and especially Sandy Hook how can you not?) But the thing that probably sold me the most was that they have an inter-generational program. Apparently this is pretty big on the east coast, but not as big on the west coast yet. Basically, there is an Adult Day Center on the same campus as the preschool and they do several (supervised) activities every week that incorporate both groups. It's basically a "grandparent" program. They have a courtyard where the older people teach the kids how to garden, the kids put on plays for their "grandparents", or they take joint classes such as art or sign language. I just think it is such a neat idea. I love the amount of joy it must bring to those older people to be around the kids, and I love that the kids are learning such important lessons from their elders early on.
So we are starting him two half days a week to start, and will probably up it to three once everyone settles into this new routine. Honestly, I was excited for him to start going. Obviously for him and all the benefits it's going to have, but on a selfish note, also for me. Two days a week to run errands or go shopping or even just go grab a quick coffee is much easier with one child rather than two, and it's also easier to cart around a one year old than a very active and opinionated three year old. So we were all totally on board with the preschool thing, and we were all excited about it. That's why I was super surprised when the tears started flowing as I walked him into the classroom and I had a hard time leaving. I went out to the car with L2 and just bawled for about ten minutes. I had been looking forward to this, but,. oh man, I missed my baby!!!!
Oh, my baby. I can't believe you're in preschool. I can't believe you are so confident that you can walk into a room full of strangers without needing me by your side. I can't believe how big you look. I love you and I missed you so much today, but I know this is going to be such a wonderful and rewarding experience for you!
On a side note, I do plan on doing a sign like that every year, so I hope you are as excited and willing to pose by your seventh, and ninth and twelfth grade signs as you were your preschool sign. Also, I will probably cry on all of those first days too.