Young Fives

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The day after Labor Day was Lucas’s first day of school for this year. He is attending a half day Young Fives program at an elementary school in our district. A few weeks before school started he told me he was so excited for school to start! I wasn’t sure I believed him. Up until now, he has been very reluctant to embrace any changes in his life. However, the first day of school dawned, and he really was ready to go!

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Our sweet, eager boy on his first day of school!

Jaime drops Lucas off at school each morning, and after they were packed up and on their way that first day, I headed back downstairs to start my morning treatments and therapy. I was anxiously awaiting a phone call or text from Jaime to hear how it went.  About 20 minutes later I got this photo:

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First-day-of-school pasta necklace.

Lucas had walked right in, sat down, and got right to work on a pasta necklace. No tears, no clinging, no nervousness. Just a cheerful, “Bye, Dad!”

When I picked him up three hours later, he was all smiles and excitement. And he is still all smiles and excitement three weeks later. He is eager to go each morning, and he’s been on time every day. Well, almost every day. His morning chauffeur overslept once and they were a few minutes late. Lucas tells me all the time he loves school. We couldn’t be more pleased!

Being five, Lucas doesn’t give me a detailed report after school, but he will tell me one or two things about his day on the way home, and a few more details surface as the afternoon wears on.  Here’s what I’ve gleaned so far:

  • He adores his teacher. Apparently all the kids think she is the “awesomest.”
  • It took his teacher less than a week to figure out his favorite color. It is tradition for her to locate the orange in his outfit each day.
  • His favorite special is gym because of all the running around. No surprise there. It seems they play freeze tag a lot.
  • His best friend in the class is a boy named Beckett. They play chasing games at recess together every day. I’ve noticed that Lucas and Beckett are the only two kids dripping with sweat when I come for pick up.
  • He has never once used the bathroom at school. He disapproves of public restrooms and the classroom bathroom is no exception. Thankfully he can get through three hours without going.
  • Lucas loves playing with his own classmates but doesn’t like it when additional classes are on the playground. Apparently there are some loud girls in the other Young Fives class. He doesn’t approve.
  • The students have to sit “criss cross applesauce, pepperoni pizza sauce” during circle time. Some things never change (although we had a much more boring and politically incorrect name for it).
  • The class did a unit with Jan Brett’s book The Gingerbread Baby which Lucas loved. Being a teacher myself, I happened to have a copy in my office. I brought it up and it found its way into our bedtime story lineup. It’s a very long book.  Jaime is still mad at me.
  • I heard Lucas quoting a line from Froggy’s First Day of School by Jonathan London after his teacher read it the other day. I have that one in my office too. I plan to bring it up after I’m sure Jaime has forgiven me for The Gingerbread Baby. 
  • Lucas hopes to be in Young Fives for a very long time. Jaime told him one morning that it was his last day of school (meaning for the week) and Lucas got teary. He was relieved to hear there were still approximately 175 school days left.
  • So far there haven’t been any traditional worksheets from class, but he did bring this home from his math center:
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Lucas’s very first worksheet.

Okay, so he had seven stickers for the number six and his name could use some work, but we’re still pretty convinced he’s a genius 😉

We are so pleased with how this year has gone so far, and proud of our big boy for making such a smooth transition to five school days a week. Jaime was exhausted after the first few days of getting the two of them out the door on time, but they’ve settled into a routine and it’s gotten easier. And for me, the schedule is heavenly. I can sleep until 8:00 most mornings. I then have three hours after they leave before I need to head out. I can get through my treatments and therapy in peace. By the time I’m through those and I’ve eaten breakfast and gotten ready for the day, I usually have 45 minutes to play with. It’s great to get a load of laundry folded, some tutoring preparations done, make some phone calls, or run a quick errand solo before I’m reunited with my bundle of energy. And once he’s back home, we still have plenty of afternoon hours for our adventures. It’s great. Young Fives. We all love it.

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Good-bye Preschool

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It seems like just yesterday I was writing a post about Lucas starting preschool. And here I am, just over a year later, writing about preschool ending. It was fun to go back and read my other post and remember those first days. It was so hard to let him go. I’m pretty sure it was more difficult for me than it was for him. Thankfully we both adjusted and by the end we were all sad when preschool ended. Last summer he was reluctant to go and would throw himself into my arms when I picked him up, so excited to see me and to head home. This spring and summer, he was thrilled to go and when I picked him up, he’d always want to stay until the very last second. He talked about his friends and school activities at home all the time.

We’ve seen Lucas change in so many positive ways due to his preschool experience. He’s better at sharing and taking ideas from other kids. He is much more calm and comfortable in big groups of people. His teachers report that he is confident and willing to speak up and contribute to the group when it is his turn to share ideas. He is more persistent with difficult tasks and he’s more independent. We loved his play-based preschool program which gave him loads of time outdoors and the freedom to explore and learn about things that are of interest to him.

I’d love it if he could stay in a classroom like that forever, but it’s time for that experience to end and a new adventure to start. He’s going to be attending a half-day young fives program this coming year at one of the local elementaries. I’m sure it will be another adjustment for all of us, but I’m hoping that with one year of school under his belt, he’ll feel more confident starting out.  I know I will.

Here are some pictures of his year. If you’re an email follower, click on the title of this post to visit actual blog. There you can view the slide show. 🙂

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We sure love our preschool graduate!

A Stepping Stone

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A few weeks ago my big boy started preschool. It may seem strange to start school in June, but the center he is attending has a summer program.  In order to hold our spot for the fall at a popular place, we had to start him in the summer. It works well because I am doing most of my summer tutoring while he is away at school.

We debated a bit about starting Lucas in school this year. He was born on August 9th which is a bit of an awkward birthday when you’re trying to figure out schooling.  Had he been born on his due date which was September 6th, we wouldn’t be in this position. The cutoff for kindergarten in Michigan is September 1st, so he would have started kindergarten just before turning six.  As it stands, we will have to decide whether to start him when he’s a young five or wait a year.

Having been a classroom teacher for seven years, I bring that perspective to the table and I would prefer to start him after he turns six, particularly because in our district, kindergarten is full day. Jaime was one of the oldest in his class having an October birthday.  He brings that perspective to the table and is not against starting Lucas in kindergarten when he is a young five, particularly if we choose a private, half day program.  Ah the decisions. Our district does offer a half day young fives program which seems like the best plan to both of us currently.

With all this bouncing around in our heads, we decided to start Lucas in preschool this year, just two afternoons a week. That way I don’t have to part with him too many days but he will have a chance to experience school, learn and grow in his social skills, get used to being away a few times a week, and it will (hopefully) ease whatever transition awaits him for next year. We’re thinking of it as a stepping stone.

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We’re off to preschool!

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Outside the school with Daddy

Lucas did great on his first day.  We had visited two times prior and he was excited to go.  He was unhappy when he realized we weren’t staying with him, but he was so brave!  No tears, just a quivering, sad face.  When I called a few hours in, his teacher said he was having a great time. The second day he was less enthusiastic and when I told him we were going, he said, “But Mommy, I already goed there!” Since then we have worked hard to prepare him, talking about how we go on Tuesdays and Thursdays, telling him which day it is and when he will go next, and it has gotten easier and easier. He even likes to wave to his class (the Robin’s class) when we pass near the school. He is making friends and we already had an outside-of-school playdate with one little boy this week.

Drop off is going smoothly now, and he is always so excited to be picked up.  He spots me from a mile away, shoots across the classroom and throws himself into my arms. What a feeling!  The reunion helps make the separation bearable. He is so excited to show us what lovely creation he has made at school that day–usually a painting or a drawing.  So far they’ve all been for me 🙂

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Unfortunately there was an almost equal amount of red paint on his shirt…

Starting preschool caused some regression in other areas at first–he wasn’t sleeping as well, he was much more clingy than he had been, not wanting to be out of my sight ever, and he was having meltdowns again. Thankfully it’s been getting better and better. Changes are hard for him and we are proud that he’s doing so well!

I had a few meltdowns too. Even though it’s just two afternoons a week, it seems like such a big step. This is not his first “school” experience as he has other little classes he attends, but this time I don’t know his teachers personally and I am not in the building nearby. When he was having a hard time initially, I second guessed our decision, worried we hadn’t fully considered all the options, and considered pulling him out after day two.  I know it’s silly, but I hated to see him struggling and telling me he missed me and wanting to stay home. I never knew how acutely I would feel Lucas’s pain as his mother. And how desperately I would want to shield and protect him from it, even though he needs to be challenged to grow. It is especially hard to stay strong when my heart is a little broken for myself, too. I love the time I have with my sweet boy and am not eager to see it lessen as he grows. Lucas does feel very proud to be big enough to go to school, and I know he’s proud of himself for being brave enough to stay. I just have to be brave enough!

I love to hear Lucas talk about what happened at school. Of course we only get bits and pieces at this age but it’s fun to have a little window into his preschool world anyway, whether it be a bird feeder that fell down in a storm (and Eva fixed it, Mommy!) or a book he heard (even the dog had some soup, Mommy!) or a field trip he’s taken (I saw pink and white flowers at the Fairy Garden, Mommy, but no fairies…), or something he did on the playground (Leo and I sang songs on the slide!). It’s an adjustment, hearing about his day rather than experiencing it with him, but it’s a good and necessary step.  A stepping stone, for both of us.

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My big boy.