Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Miriam loves preschool, and so do I

Shortly after we found out we'd be moving to Ithaca, I set about finding a preschool for Miriam to attend once we got there (here). Since I was doing all my research online, I knew I wouldn't be getting a perfect sampling of preschools, just the ones with an internet presence. But it would have to be good enough since we weren't going to be in Ithaca until late summer, by which time I was sure all the good preschool spots would be filled.

In the end, we figured out where we were going to be living, and then I found a preschool close to that. I was really excited to find a place that was close enough to walk to, and it's possible that I was slightly over-hasty in signing her up (and paying a non-refundable deposit) because of that. I mean, I did read the contract and handbook and everything, but the message that got through was something like, "Preschool blah blah blah parent helper day requirement blah blah blah board position requirement blah blah play-based curriculum blah blah blah CLOSE ENOUGH TO WALK AND MIRIAM OUT OF THE HOUSE FOR THREE HOURS A DAY, THREE DAYS A WEEK."

So, yeah. The good thing is that I (and Miriam) love the preschool. I love the little art projects Miriam brings home three times a week, stuff like buckwheat and dried corn husks glued to squares of re-purposed cereal box paperboard. I love the handwritten signs, all in capital letters, taped in odd places around the classroom that say things like, "MIRIAM WOULD LIKE TO FEED THE FISH ON MONDAY (AND RALPH ON TUESDAY) (AND SUSAN ON WEDNESDAY)," or "PLEASE DON'T KNOCK DOWN TIMOTHY'S BLOCK CASTLE," or "IT'S JEAN'S TURN TO PLAY WITH THE DOLLHOUSE ON FRIDAY." I love that the "curriculum" is play-based, that Miriam can go to preschool for a few hours in the morning and learn by doing, with plenty of time left over for unstructured outdoor recreation. And don't even get me started on Show & Tell, and the impact it has had on Miriam's sense of self. Show & Tell has become the major axis around which her tiny life revolves.

Now, about those parent helper days and the board position requirement. They kind of snuck up on me, but it's turned out OK, so far, I think. I'm withholding judgment on my unintentional status as Co-Treasurer until I get some major reports done in the next two weeks. The parent helper days, however, are going swimmingly. Sure, there is the hassle of finding someone to tend Magdalena during that time. There is also the realization that although I freely admit to sending my daughter to preschool in part to get a break from her, a few times a month I am more or less voluntarily spending three hours in the classroom with her and 14 of her classmates.

All the hassle aside, though, I really enjoy the parent helper day once I'm there. There's the Show & Tell aspect, of course, but there's something about spending time around other people's children that helps you appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of your own kid. Plus, it's a good chance to get to know the kids Miriam talks about all day after she gets home from preschool.

Just because I enjoy parent helper days doesn't mean the kids enjoy me so much. I have been told on three separate, non-consecutive occasions, by different children, that I don't do "blast-offs" on the swings very well. And one morning I was sitting at the art table and the kids wanted me to paint my own picture, just like they were. I tried, but it was so hard to be creative and abstract like them. I found myself painting defined shapes and patterns and it didn't look good, not at all. All the other kids' paintings looked awesome. I guess my skills are a little out of practice.

On the whole, I feel like we really lucked out with this preschool, considering we chose it sight unseen. Let's hope my opinion doesn't change too much as I get to work on these treasurer reports...


Chris said...

What do you get to do as treasurer? It seems odd that there is a treasurer position for a private pre-school. One would think that the paid teachers would be happy to allot themselves the monies.

Bridget said...

Well, it's a co-op, thus the required parent involvement. I would have been first in line for the Laundry Support position but we don't have a washer/dryer at home. So treasurer it is. I get to do payroll stuff and also a lot of exciting tax forms.

Liz Johnson said...

That's really cool. Show and tell!? Awesome. I'm so glad that you guys found a good fit. I cannot sing the praises of our preschool enough... I practically want to kiss those people when I go in there. You'll take my kid for 4.5 hours twice per week!? I LOVE YOU.

Anna said...

Preschool sounds awesome. At first the idea of actually going and dealing not just with your own child but with 14 others every so often sounded pretty uncool to me. I am counting days until Sophie can go to nursery and am terrified I will be called as a nursery worker.

However, I babysit a little boy four days a week and watching Sophie interact with him shows me a whole different side to her. It helps me to not baby her so much and to expect more of her. Also, it makes me more grateful for when it is just us two.

Also, I get paid.

I'm glad your preschool is such a hit. Who would have thought show and tell would end up being such a big deal? I'll remember that.

Susanne said...

I was wondering the other day how Miriam was liking preschool. NO IDEA why that came to mind, but now I know...thanks!

Sounds great! :)

Mr.Babies said...

Awesome post!! It seems you have some cool kids. I’m glad there are other people out there who care about their kids as much as I care about mine. If you want to see what others are doing about their kids in similar situations as yours, check us out at MrBabies.blogspot.com
Spread the word.

JackJen said...

I really struggled with the decision sending Ian to Preschool or not... But in the end, we decided to pull the trigger and I haven't once regretted it. Not once.

Good grief, he goes twice a week for 2.5 hours and learned the pledge of allegiance in just 4 classes. Now, every time we go to the library, we have to say the pledge of allegiance outside by the flag pole....which could prove problematic in the coming winter months.

Steven said...

I'm still confused... Is that your painting or Miriam's?

Bridget said...

Ha ha. It's Miriam's. Can't you see her name scratched in at the very bottom right?


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