My oldest child started kindergarten this year. While I was sad and didn’t feel ready for him to go, I knew he was ready and it was a cake walk compared to sending him to preschool. Preschool was a rough transition for me. I knew he was ready, but I was not. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, and I think that is part of why sending him to any kind of school or place where I wasn’t there and he wasn’t being watched my family was incredibly difficult for me. The January before he started preschool, I started researching preschools in my area. My area of concentration in college was child development so I knew what I wanted to look for that I knew would be in his best interest and what he needed at this age. I wanted a very play-based, half-day program that didn’t have a rigorous academic focus. I wanted him to grow his social and emotional skills. He could learn the rest of the academic stuff later. I started calling several preschools and asking my questions and set up a tour at three different preschools. The first one we went to made me uncomfortable because I was able to walk right into the building and classroom before an adult even saw me. That didn’t sit well with me. In this age where school shootings are happening more and more, I wanted my son to be as safe as possible at school.
Before we visited the other two schools, my friend had shared that a certain preschool was having an open house that coming weekend. I hadn’t looked into this preschool yet – I hadn’t even heard of it at this point but it was close to our house and seemed to check the boxes on my list of requirements, so we decided to go. When we walked in, my son immediately spotted the John Deere toys and went right to them and started playing while we chatted with the teacher who was also the director of the preschool program. She went over and talked to him. At this point our son was incredibly shy and introverted that he didn’t often engage in conversation with people he didn’t know very well. But to our surprise he was excited to talk to her and he took her hand to go look at the playground out the window. This floored us as parents because we thought he’d have a hard time but he loved it.
And it felt right.
It was comfortable. I didn’t make this decision with any check lists or several questions like I usually do. We made this decision based on how it felt and it felt like home- the right place to send our son.
The months leading up to preschool we talked about how fun and exciting preschool was going to be. He was pumped. I on the other hand was nervous and anxious at the thought of sending my first baby to school. It felt like the end in my mind. No more spending our days together doing whatever we wanted and playing. The time came for him to start and it was amazing. After a little while I was so comfortable and loved this preschool that I was excited for him to go another year before he started kindergarten. And now I have nothing but absolutely excited feelings for my daughter to attend this preschool this year. No anxiety whatsoever about this choice, and it feels amazing.
These same feelings started to creep up again when it came time for him to start kindergarten this fall. It was a new school with only one other kid that he knew in the building and it was all day. But as we prepared for it and talked about it with the same excitement and love we’d had for preschool and meeting his teacher, my fears melted away and I felt good about it.
Again it felt right.
I was left with a big lesson as a mother. Sometimes the things that make us the most worried and anxious for our children are harder on us as parents than they are on our children.