It’s Little Mama‘s very last day of preschool this week, and not surprisingly, I am struck with a good dose of melancholy. Our little girl loves preschool. Scratch that, we ALL love preschool.
Of course, not all preschools are created equally, so it’s really about finding the perfect preschool that suits your family and more specifically, your little ones’ needs.
For us, we hit the jackpot with Little Mama‘s preschool. Her teachers are nurturing, loving, firm, creative, and gentle in their approach to a preschooler’s learning and development. Like most of the preschools in our area, they encourage play and an appreciation for nature, as opposed to sitting at a table reciting the alphabet backwards, while standing on their heads counting to 100. They encourage curiosity and imagination and help bridge the gap between the more quiet and the more outgoing of students – inspiring interaction and inclusivity. But the most amazing thing about Little Mama‘s preschool is that they take the time, patience, and interest in getting to know her and all the kids on an individual level. They embrace their limitations and celebrate their daily wins. Little Mama began the school year with great hesitancy and all of her incredible ECE teachers held her hand through it all. Most importantly, they held MY hand. I was always so concerned about this once introspective little girl who drew pictures of her baby siblings in heaven, which indicated ever so subtly, her awareness of the grief that has taken over our household. Within months of encouraging her to express her grief through art and play, her teachers’ compassion and understanding allowed Little Mama to move into a new phase of acceptance and became the playful, fun, expressive child I have always known her to be, before all of the losses.
It’s funny, we originally had reservations about putting Little Mama in preschool, but looking back, we now know why we pushed through with our plans. We surrendered to the realization that we just couldn’t do it all. Here are the 5 reasons we love preschool for Little Mama.
#5FAVES :: 5 REASONS WHY WE LOVE PRESCHOOL (AND WHY WE’RE SAD IT’S ALMOST OVER)
1:: WHY WE LOVE PRESCHOOL FOR LITTLE MAMA – She Made Her Own Friends
Little Mama and I have had our share of playdates since the day she was born. As my business began to wiggle its way to the front seat in my life, we haven’t had much time for playdates, hence, the struggle of keeping up with friendships. In any event, I was concerned with how this little social butterfly, once shy caterpillar, was going to be socialized. Well, the first thing I did was take my collection of “How to Be A Better Mom By Socializing Your Kids” books, slam them shut, and take the pressure off myself. I realized that my little one was receiving a lot of love and enough socializing just by existing in our home. I didn’t have to tell myself I was being a bad parent by not bringing her on 10 playdates a week. Then, I realized, she was old enough at the ripe age of 3 to make her own decisions as far as who to hug, who to hold hands with, who to play trucks with, who to karaoke “Let It Go” with (ad nauseum), and who to dress up at super heroes and princesses with. And what better way for her to decide on her own than when mommy’s not around (go figure!). I’ve been known to play matchmaker with my friends, and now I was actually starting to do this with my child. Shame on me… but, how was I supposed to know she could do it on her own? I mean, she was just the size of a peanut <Enter Helicopter Mommy disclaimer here>…
For the first few months of kicking and screaming coming into preschool, Little Mama‘s teachers who had the hearts of gold, and the patience of saints, just told me to continue bringing her to the door. Once she successfully past the threshold, she would embark on a unique adventure that day. By the end of the day, she would come out of those same doors with a smile on her face. After a few months, she developed her own friendships and would come through the doors holding hands with different little friends. By spring, it was like pulling teeth to get the child back into the car, because she was having so much fun with the friends she chose on her own.
Her friendships nurtured in these early years are so valuable and special to her. Some of my closest relationships now as an adult, started at this young age. I’m thrilled that we are able to continue these friendships even if the kids will no longer be going to the same big-kid school.
2:: WHY WE LOVE PRESCHOOL FOR LITTLE MAMA – She Adopted Manners and Learned Self Care
There is something about another adult teaching your little one the fun-not-so-fun disciplines as far as cleaning up after themselves, being mindful of others’ space and feelings, and hand washing. As much as Big Daddy and I work tirelessly at instilling these learned behaviours in our very independent Little Mama, you can never recruit enough help. It takes a village, right? So to come into the school at the end of the day and find that same child (who you spend hours reminding to do the same simple tasks at home) independently throwing out recyclables, turning off the faucet, cleaning up after herself… well you can imagine how delightfully confused I was. Of course, it’s all routine, and watching your peers doing the same certainly helps the situation. Which is yet another reason why we love preschool, and why our home agrees with this sentiment wholeheartedly.
3:: WHY WE LOVE PRESCHOOL FOR LITTLE MAMA – She Understands Table Etiquette
I’m not going to lie. I still feed my child. Not all the time, but when times are desperate and is not in our favour, I am known to hold a spoonful of all the food groups I can fit, shamelessly sticking it into my child’s mouth. I can blame it on my culture, as I was brought up in a home where feeding your child happens until the night of your prom, but I’m not going to do that. I’m simply going to say that my kiddo needs a little assistance in the eating arena.
Low and behold, preschool happened. Once snack time was set in place as an essential part of the day where one must sit at the table, share in the fine dining of cut up berries and carrots and the occasional birthday cupcake – by George, it stuck! This little one has magically learned to feed herself the amount her little body wants to eat. I’ve learned through friends and colleagues alike that forcing food down our kids throats pretty much does not end well. And the struggle is real, folks. Kids would rather belt out songs on their walkie talkies, than sit still at a table (I mean, who wouldn’t?). So we’ve also picked up the timing of the preschool standards. Because she doesn’t have much of a choice among her peers, she has developed the wonderful habit of sitting at a table during snack time, enjoying the variation of colors and textures placed in front of her, for as long as their little bodies can stand it. Dinner time as a family has become so much more enjoyable with Little Mama developing these great habits at preschool.
4:: WHY WE LOVE PRESCHOOL FOR LITTLE MAMA – It’s And Environment Geared Towards Play
In a later post, I will be showing you around our playroom at home. Little Mama has helped design her own version of functionality in her area of play, surprisingly adhering to the rules of feng shui. Where did she gain such skill? Why, preschool of course.
The flow of the room, no matter how big or small, is essential to keeping these darling little monkeys in one room for hours at a time. Little Mama has found her favourite spots, and has decided to recreate it in her own space at home. All her dolls and pretend play toys are in one area, her dress up area in another, keeping mobile toys separate from the forts and tunnels. I know, it sounds intricate – but it’s all part of their imagination and play. And Little Mama is all about it, thanks to her experiences at preschool. I have found that her curious and amazing little-not-so-little brain is exercised so much during play. Her ability to reinvent a situation on her own accord is mind blowing. Her creativity in seeing something so simple and creating a full-on experience out of it, brings me immense joy. These are things you can’t really teach. They just experience it themselves. And I find that preschool provides such a nurturing environment that inspires this kind of learning.
5:: WHY WE LOVE PRESCHOOL FOR LITTLE MAMA – She Learns how To Work With Others
Aside from the close friendships she has developed while in preschool, Little Mama encounters a variety of personalities among her peers and teachers on a daily basis. She continues to learn how to read people and to work in harmony with those around her. Sharing has always been something I’ve been concerned about – Little Mama, being the only living child in our home. Big Daddy and I are diligent in getting her to share some of her toys with us, and it’s not always a seamless process. However, we have learned that the idea of sharing carries its own set of limitations. I mean, I can’t imagine Big Daddy sharing his beloved Rolex with any Joe Shmoe that walks up to him and asks for it. But learning to deal with situations that require an act of kindness, generosity, sacrifice, fairness – moments where instant gratification isn’t necessarily going to happen – well, that is all learned. And I am thrilled that she learned so much of this being exposed to a vast amount of unique situations at preschool.
And this is why it is bittersweet for us to close that same door we worked so hard to get into.
Preschool has really given Little Mama the tools to face the wonders and challenges of elementary, high school, and most importantly, life school, as far as I’m concerned. Darlene, Stacey, Glenys, Shannon, Erin, Bonnie, and Debbie – you have left such a mark on Little Mama, and we will never forget how you held her hand, and even moreso, held my hand, through the process. We owe most, if not all of the positive changes we’ve seen in our little girl in the last year, to all of you.
Now that Little Mama has been given the wings to fly, off she goes on to her next adventure. As tough as it will be to say goodbye to the inspiring ladies who have played such a significant role in Little Mama‘s early development, and to the beautiful friendships that holds such a special place in her heart, we’re ready for the next chapter in her life. Coming from a household where grief has been the norm, it wasn’t always easy for Little Mama to adjust to social situations. Now she has a bounce to her step and unmistakable confidence that has blown our minds. Preschool was not only integral to her development, it was an absolute necessity.
And now that the school bells have rung its final ring for the year, be sure to visit our fabulous co-host of #5faves at The Koala Mom for her list of 5 favourite summertime activities for the little ones.
We would love to hear some of YOUR five favorite things too. Link up below!
We love preschool…
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