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24 February, 2014

Evie's Preschool Experience - A midyear check in

I "signed up" or "committed" to join Conversion Diary in doing seven blog posts in seven days. One of the premises was to write about stuff you've been meaning to catch up on.  And the point of the exercise is just to write, and not be perfectionist about blogging (not that I really am anyway, ha!).

Today I want to share a little about Evie's preschool experience.
(first day of school! My family!)

As a short back story, Evie went to in-home childcare with another family for last school year while I worked. It was fabulous. And that had been the plan for this year as well.  The nanny we used last year moved on to another job so we'd searched and hired someone for the summer, who was great but she was a college student.  And the nanny we'd hired for the Fall ended up getting recruited for job in her field a few months earlier than expected. This left us without childcare while I worked 15-19 hours a week in the Fall.

We prayed and Googled and as God would have it, I happened to drive by the little Lutheran Church half a mile from where I work the day they put up a sign the first week of August "Openings in 18mo-3 years old".  You better believe I called and toured the next day. It was perfect!

I'd known a few casual friends who had sent kids there so that helped ease the transition, even though I was super nervous about over-schooling my child.

The need for affordable childcare won so we bought a backpack and a lunch box and off she went.

Those first few weeks, and even months were tricky. Three four-hour days during her nap time was really hard on her.  She spent a lot of afternoons taking car naps, or worse, fighting me for an hour due to over exhaustion before she'd lay down for a nap.

 But those days are gone.

We're in a great routine on school days. Evie makes it home all but one or two days a month before the nap sets in.

Initially, I was really hesitant about sending Evie to preschool at just 22 months old.  I am so anti-over schooling and over committing kids to activities.  I am a firm believe in play and social time, especially for two year olds.  There are many, many pre-schools in our area that I won't send my children to because they're forcing unnecessary things on them to "prep" them for Kindergarden.  I'm not even sorry that I don't think my 3 or 4 year old needs a computer class at school.  Anyway....

We were so blessed that the school we found for her had really fit what we would want should we need to send our kids to school "early".

Evie has learned so many new skills while at school this year and had grown socially.  The school has pushed her beyond what I would have encouraged her to do or tried at home, out of fear that she was too little or not ready.

Some of the things Evie has brought home from school have amazed us.  She's learned to count to twenty, knows her colors, shapes and ABCs.  She has learned over a dozen songs with hand motions or full body movement.  She learned how to turn on the bathroom sink, use soap, wash her hands and get a paper towel.  She can use stickers, crayons and markers; and scissors and glue with help.  She has a great clean up routine and has learned to group like-toys to put them away.

She's gone from being super timid to trying new things.  And from shy to excited when going to play with friends.

We've discovered just how social she is -- she talks about her friends and teachers all day.  We learned that she loves to play in the sandbox and swing, but even with the "peer pressure" of her friends and encouragement of her teachers, she's still afraid of slides more than 2 feet tall.

Most of all I love that she's learning to take direction from adults other than us.  She also has incredible table manners, because they have a snack and lunch at school.  Evie is so joyful and social. All the teachers know her and comment on how well behaved and fun she is to be around.

Her experiences have confirmed that though a last minute decision it was the right one.  We're so glad we found a school that is so play based, affirming and kind.  I know we could have done a lot of these things at home, but I don't think we would have had the same impact, nor would she get the social engagement. There is just something important about learning to share and to interact at such an early age.

I certainly miss my girl when she's at school, but I also love the opportunity to work and schedule doctor/dentist/haircuts and not have to worry about a sitter.  It also gives us a great break from each other, and I find that invaluable.

Eric and I  talked a lot about what we're going to do next year since we'll have another kid in tow and my career path is changing....but after we really evaluated the benefits we've seen from her time at school, we're going to continue Evie at school again next year even though she doesn't technically NEED to attend. We have found a different school for her, but more on that another day....

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