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education

Last week, with both kids in tow thanks to Lorne being out of town for work, I headed down the street to our local elementary school. Now, why was I going to the elementary school with both children you might ask. Well, it was kindergarten registration day!

As it turns out each school in our district handles kindergarten registration a bit differently. After reading through all the details online and calling the kindergarten school board rep I determined that our particular school was not handing out registration packets ahead of time and parents had to show up at the school between 1:30pm and 6:00pm on March 6th to fill out the registration forms, hand over copies of all the necessary documentation and get their kiddos all signed up for kindergarten. I was not exactly impressed that I couldn’t fill out the paperwork ahead of time. I’m not a fan of last minute stuff, but what could I do.

With my pile of necessary documentation in hand I headed into the school, which by the way is awesome! The registration process was set up very well. There were packets right at the front door with all the registration forms. There were tables set up in the hallway covered in paper so that the kids could color away while their parents filled out what felt like endless amounts of paperwork. The school nurse was on hand to review immunization records and go over any immunizations the child may need to get before school starts (luckily for us we are all caught up). She was also available to go over the process for special medical situations, like Maya’s nut allergy. She was super sweet. After all the paperwork was filled out and we had talked with the school nurse it was onto the front office to hand over everything. The office staff was super helpful and super sweet. It didn’t take long to go over all the forms and we were on our way.

Our school district is not currently offering full day kindergarten at no charge to all students. Instead each student who is interested in full day kindergarten has to enter a lottery and if selected through the lottery to fill one of the slots there is a monthly tuition fee. We are hopeful that Maya will get a full time spot as I’ve heard it is rare in our district for them not to accommodate all the children who have requested the full day program, but I’m really fine with either. Next week we’ll find out.

I truly can’t believe we are already here, getting ready for kindergarten. She isn’t my baby anymore, not by a long shot. She is definitely our big, smart girl who is more than ready to face this new challenge. I’m really looking forward to what next year bring for her. I have a feeling she is going to grow and change immensely.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to say that Maya loves school. Given her propensity to shyness and her antics last winter when I tried to send her into her gymnastics class alone, I was really worried that it would take her some time, perhaps even a lot of time, to adjust to going to school. Deep down I knew she would love it once she got adjusted, but I didn’t know what to expect from her at first.

We are in week number 3 of the school year and Maya is just in love with going to school. When she gets up in the morning she always asks if she “gets to go to school this day?” :) Other than a few tears, that according to her teacher only lasted a couple of minutes, on her first day of school drop off has been a breeze. Thursday when I dropped her off she barely said goodbye before running into her class room. It is going better than I even could have hoped. I never imagined that on her 3rd day of school she’d already be at the running into class with barely a look back stage, I love it.

She is getting so much out of it too. Every Tuesday and Thursday when I pick her up from school at lunchtime she is full of stories about all the things she did in class that day. She sings the songs they have been learning in class all day long. She talks about her new little friends and all the things they played with. She adores her teachers. She is so proud of her little art projects at the end of the day. Not to mention that she is constantly playing school at home now too, either with Lorne and I or her dolls as her “students”.

The smiles on her face when I drop her off and the bigger smiles on her face when I pick her up just melt my heart.

 

 

Today was a big day for Maya, it was her first day of preschool.

She has been filled with excitement and nerves about the whole idea of starting school for weeks. Most days she went back and forth between liking the idea of starting school and kind of wanting to go and saying she didn’t like school and just wanted to stay home with me. We spent a lot of time talking about what she could expect and really talking up how much fun she would have. As the big day drew closer we took her out to pick out a first day of school outfit and a new backpack. It all helped to increase the excitement and decrease the nerves.

This morning at drop off I could sense her nerves and was a bit worried about how the drop off would go. She cried, as I expected, but I stayed positive and said my good byes. Her teacher did a great job of diverting her attention and I walked out the door. When I went back to pick her up a few hours later she was all smiles and full of stories about what she did. Ms. Melinda said she stopped crying pretty much right after I left and had a great day.

I’m so proud of her. Her first day of school was a huge success and she can’t wait to go back and do it all over again next week.

Who knew that enrolling your child in preschool required practically as much paperwork as buying a house!

Maya will be starting preschool in August when the new school year begins.  The school district we live in has an amazing preschool program and we had her added to the wait list last fall for the half day program hoping for 2 or 3 days a week.  While we were in Australia we got the call that a spot had opened up for her in the new school year.  After a little interesting phone tag across very different time zones and finally an email exchange I was able to secure her spot in a two day a week half day program.  The assistant principle said they would mail the paperwork to our house and set the due date for 2 after my return to the US so I didn’t have to worry about it until I got back.

I returned home to a mountain of mail, one of which being a very thick envelope from the school district that I knew contained the enrollment paperwork.  I figured it was a few forms and the handbook.  It never dawned on me that majority of the thickness of the envelope was the paperwork I would need to fill out and the handbook took up a mere 10 pages.  The amount of paperwork I have had to complete the last couple of weeks just to get my daughter enrolled in a preschool program is seriously ridiculous.  I feel like I’m signing over my life, similar to how I felt when I was filling out paperwork to buy our house! I’ve been buried in a mountain of preschool enrollment paperwork for 2 weeks now and finally dug myself out. After much running around to get the necessary documentation to prove I live where I said I lived and to get all the medical forms (4 of them) completed by Maya’s pediatrician, and lots and lots of time spent sitting at our desk filling out form after form and signing permission slip after permission slip I am finally done.

Today I had a meeting with the assistant principle to drop off my mountain of paperwork, get a tour of the school and talk about our expectation for next year. Can I just say I love this school. The preschool is currently in summer classes and camps mode. It was nice to get to see some of the teachers in action and see how comfortable the kids are in the environment and how much there is for them to do. The school is adorable but also very well stocked in the necessities of early childhood learning, including some pretty fantastic tech gear like an interactive activity station that allows kids to use their bodies and movements to learn things like reading and math skills. The program seems to offer everything I was hoping for.

I’m excited for Maya to start preschool. She is definitely ready for this next big step in her life.  The program is very child led so her learning will be broad and based on what she is ready to learn and wants to learn while being guided by the teacher.  I can’t wait to see how she changes and grows from the program. That being said it seriously freaks me out that my baby is already old enough to be in school. Who told her she could grow up so quickly!

It is preschool decision time at our house.  The plan is to have Maya to start preschool next fall.  Since her birthday is in November she will be almost 6 when she starts kindergarten so by starting her in preschool next fall, when she is almost 4, that will give her 2 full years of preschool before she starts kindergarten.  Most of the preschools in our area have pretty long waiting lists so we need to get cracking on deciding which one(s) to get her name on.  There are too many options, I don’t know what to do.

I heard that our school district had a booklet of the area preschools so I called them up and had them mail me one.  Would you believe there are 21 preschools within 5 miles of us, 21!  How am I supposed to choose between 21 preschools?  Top on our list is the preschool run through our school district, it comes highly rated and I like the idea that she’ll be starting out with the same teaching/education philosophy that she’ll encounter once she starts kindergarten.  However, I’m also really interested in the Montessori approach but I don’t know a lot about it other than what I’ve read.  Hmm, decisions, decisions.

Our first step is to narrow it down to a 2 or 3 schools and then schedule tours so we can base our final decision on what we think of the teaching philosophy, the environment, the facilities and the teaching/administrative staff.  However, getting to that point is tough.

Here is where you guys come in.  Since this is my first go around with preschool I’m afraid of over looking something, not asking the right questions, etc.  So, I’m turning to you guys for guidance.  Do you prefer traditional or Montessori preschools and why?  What do you love most about the preschool your child is going/went to?  What questions do you think are most important to ask a prospective preschool?  I need your help!