Before we jump into bed every night my almost 5-year-old insists on placing his clothes out for school the next morning. He gets so excited to get dressed every morning and packs his bag in anticipation and brushes his teeth. He is almost completely independent, bar packing his own lunch box. When did this happen? When did my baby become so self-sufficient and “grown up”?
It marks the start of a new chapter, I’ve officially just handed in our “notice letter” for our last term of pre-school. Next year my baby will be starting big school and I’m feeling a thousand emotions. Am I making the right decision? Should he stay in the school he’s in or do we move him to the local primary school down the road? Will he miss his friends? Will he miss his teacher? Looking back at the past 3 years I can’t believe all the milestones we have crossed. From developing a fully-grown vocabulary which includes words like delicate, effective and communication (which he proudly teaches his brother the meaning of), from riding plastic motorbikes to full on bicycles without training wheels. Creative “scribbling” has morphed into proper pictures, with people, houses and real “things”.
Leaving the preschool years behind has got me feeling properly emotional, but I think I’ll miss it for these main reasons:
- Showing up late or missing school isn’t the end of the world – My husband always used to laugh at me when I stressed about the time and I was always the firmer parent on attending school. Hubby always said, “he’s still young”, “leave him while we can”. In the past year I’ve realised this. I’ve savoured every moment that we would have mommy and me days or taking him out on spontaneous adventures. Once we start formal school being late or skipping school can come with some serious consequences. The extra time we have had together has been worth very single moment.
- Sand in his shoes – Something that irritates me now is probably something ill miss the most. A sign of a day well played. Though I’m grateful my car may be a little cleaner, I will miss, what that sand represents: time spent running and playing, pouring and sifting, building and experimenting.
- Walking into school hand in hand – Ok so maybe this will last a little longer, but every morning my son holds my hand so tight. From the time we leave the car, walking through the parking lot, up the school stairs right up until I hand him to his teacher, he doesn’t let go of my hand, not even for a second.
- Pure Play – Probably the biggest and most obvious things we will miss. Yes, whilst there is some structure to his preschool all the activities are based around play, and learning through play. I’m going to miss the freedom he has of just “being a kid” the most.
- Hanging around the class – I’m one of those moms who loves getting involved. I normally stick around for a few minutes after dropping them off (especially with my youngest when he was still settling). All the kids now me and run to give me hugs and tell me about their days, and speaking to other mums about nap times, extra curricular activities or current challenges. Next year the class starts in a much more prompt manner and even though its normal, I’m realizing I won’t know as much about my child’s day-to-day experiences.
- Pure Friendship – In preschool there is no bullying or teasing. Pre-schoolers aren’t judgemental, and they play with everyone! The friends your children make are pure and sweet. Once he hits big school and the comparisons begin I know I can’t protect him for a greater world of mean kids, teasing.
- The Crafty Activities – The artwork, the sensory play, the imaginative creations and abstract architecture. I’m going to miss my son beaming with pride running up to me to explain his latest masterpiece. I’ve kept all the special ones, but If I don’t proudly display it on the fridge he gets upset and wants to know why. I’m going to miss the sense of pride and satisfaction he gets from creating and I can only hope that our selected primary school keeps a good balance.
- The Community –I know I’ll create a new one, but I’m in a place where my child ADORES his teachers. He is always happy, smiling and eager to get to school first. I know that everyone cares from him, and everyone knows who he is, and I know they would pick up straight away if he was feeling down or unwell.
I have no doubt he will embrace “big school”, every day when we drive past the school he asks how many more sleeps it is until he gets to go to big school, with a big cricket pitch. Its more my emotions, and my fears for him. Leaving the preschool years isn’t easy. It’s the start of a new chapter both in childhood and in parenting. I plan to savour these last few months of preschool with unhurried mornings and lots of artwork praising.