Recently both girls "graduated" from their classes. I know there are many dissenting opinions on "graduating" from every tiny thing kids do, so at home we call them "programs" :) Jake has a theory that perhaps putting our youngest in graduation caps so often will firmly plant the idea of graduating into their heads and increase their chances of completing high school? It's a nice twist on the discussion!
|Heidi, age 4, Toddler Time. Hazel, age 5.75, preK.|
Fortunately, my girls LOVE school! This was Heidi's first year and she attended Toddler Time at our church (Good Hope Lutheran Church) two mornings a week. She learned A LOT about making friends, dealing with mean or naughty behaviors from classmates, and LOVES to write letters and spell "Hazel Heidi Dad Mom Llama". When Hazel was 3-4, I just started teaching her to write her name, so Heidi has astounded me with how much she can do at such a young age. I give much of that credit to her daily babysitter who is a natural teacher and encourages Heidi to practice and grow daily!
During the program, Heidi was a complete CLOWN! Looking at other kids, making faces, twirling, etc. After that we discussed program etiquette and the importance of singing along and participating. That lecture worked this week at a VBS program...she sang and did the motions, but also kept running off the stage to interact with me and trying to talk with the big kid next to her. She ended up being carried out of the room, screaming and crying, by her mean mother. Now the lecture on program etiquette has been expanded and I've overheard her talking to herself about staying on stage, not talking to other kids while they are singing AND participating. There is so much to learn while growing up (and mama's hair gets grayer and grayer from this goof-ball child!).
This was Hazel's second year in a preschool program. While it was a really difficult decision whether or not to send Hazel to Kindergarten this past year, it was 100% a fantastic decision to wait! SHE BLOSSOMED this year! Her preK program was more days and more hours than last year's preschool, so it still provided good movement. Also, the preK was part of a local Chrisitan school, so she arrived each morning while buses were dropping off other kids, walked the halls with the big kids, interacted with other grades...a perfect stepping stone! Her teacher was FANTASTIC! I can't sing her praises loud enough! The classroom had structure, but also emphasized play, the most important fundamental in learning... and the most ignored in public education. She also got daily naps after school, something she would have missed had she gone to full day Kindergarten!
One of my favorite parts of the year were the many deep discussions we had about peer relationships. Of course, she typically would voice her questions and concerns RIGHT when I pulled up to her school in the morning, but I would revisit the talking points in the evening when we had more time to hash out the intricacies of friendships. Her biggest struggles were how to handle it when her friends would fight over who could sit and play with her. She is 100% kind and loving and very concerned in making everyone feel welcome...while being true to herself and preferring some friends. Her biggest accomplishment of the year, according to her, is that she was the only kid in preK who never got in trouble ;)
She has also really grown in her creativity! Her teacher allowed them to spend time each day, using any art materials. For Hazel, this was incredible! She has made thousands of construction paper envelopes, filled with construction paper stick figures/ unicorns/ rainbows. She calls them blind bags and gets giddy every.single.time she gives one away. She also started making "stuffed animals" out of construction paper, cotton/kleenex/crumbled paper, staples or tape and a string tale. At the end of the year, I was able to chaperone a field trip (to Pizza Hut, yum!) and snapped some shots of the classroom. The kids had free time before we left, Hazel immediately started making some 3D art. Then I noticed how Mrs. Jones actually decorated with Hazel's artwork! Every available space was filled about 80% with Hazel's creations :) What a way to build up a child!
What a fantastic year! The girls have grown in unexpected way, learned more about the Bible, letters and friendships than I ever expected...and have a beautiful LOVE for learning! We have much to be thankful for.