Wednesday, June 11, 2014

From Teacher to Parent

I enrolled Benjamin in a local Parent's Day Out summer program to get him used to going to "school" for the fall. We planned to enroll him at the same place, but we might be shifting gears and switching because the availability of days is just not available to us (read: I am the idiot who didn't research registration and the days I wanted are full--who knew this "preschool" business was so impacted in the Chicago suburbs!). I called it "school" because I wanted him to associate with Daniel Tiger and how the characters attend school. It's structured, so a bit different than daycare. They have a schedule of outside play, organized craft, storytime, snack, music time, etc. I also didn't call it "class", because that is what we referred to swim and gymnastics. They were where Mommy and/or Daddy attended with him, and school would be solo.

He went a total of four days for this session, separated over two weeks. He was in "school" for 4 hours and ate lunch there. I picked him up, brought him home and put him down for a nap. He desperately needed this. He needs to be in a program with structure and a schedule along with the social interaction that early preschool really does encourage. He also needed to be with other adults that were not Mom and Dad.

It wasn't time for a pedicure and coffee dates, however. I still had little sister to work with, but if I played my cards right, I did manage to get some errands run and a few things crossed off the ol' to-do list.
There were funny moments to note:

  • The first was about me. This was the first time I signed my son in with strangers (aside from 1-hr at church where we are just feet away) and left for a number of hours. It was not as uncomfortable as I thought, but I did think it was strange that I knew nothing about these teachers he would spend his day with! Being a teacher, I was always the one who cared for the kids and released them at the end of the school day to their parents. Yes, my students were considerably older and literate, but it was an odd feeling. 
  • I picked him up on the first day and he was sitting at the head of the table of 8 kids (all girls but him!), holding the teacher's hand and touching her shiny jewelry. The kid loves attention. The teacher told me, "He loves talking, telephones, and shiny things." Nailed it.
  • I loved that he had lunch there, but felt odd about packing him a lunch. It was so foreign to me that he would take a lunch somewhere and eat it with other people! I also felt uncomfortable because my son is a terrible eater. He just never wants food-- only snack foods. The 1st day he ate everything I provided (sandwich, milk, yogurt). The 2nd day, I gave a bit more (sandwich, squeeze pack applesauce, Snapeas crispy things, milk). They sent the sandwich back home with him. Since he didn't eat it, I decided to send less snacks and just the main foods I wanted him to eat on day 3 because clearly the teachers were not pushing the sandwich as much as the snack foods. The 3rd day, he ate the whole sandwich and yogurt and all of his milk. When I picked him up, the teachers said, "He was starving!" He ate it all and tried to steal other kids' food and recommended I send more snacks. Ahhh! He also begged for more crackers at snacktime (um, my kid loves crackers, even if he is full). So on Day 4, I sent a sandwich, yogurt, crackers, Snapea crispy things, strawberries and milk. He ate 95% of it all. Seriously, the kid ate SIX bites of dinner last night. Total. School is a magical place.
  • When we came home and were talking just before naptime on Day 3, I asked if he played outside (the only non-rainy day of the four days!). He responded, "Oh, sorry. No no bite." I would assume that the teachers would have told me he was a biter rather than placing a huge emphasis on him "starving" instead? It's totally funny how although he doesn't have language mastery, he can communicate a bit of something that occurred. Maybe it was just him overhearing a conversation or repeating what the teacher was telling the bulk of students? It's not really much different than what my 4th & 5th graders probably went home and told their parents on many occasions. A big, ol', misunderstanding.
  • When I picked him up on the 4th day, he had a huge smile on his face and the first thing out of his mouth when I walked in was "FUN!" Oh man. The kid is going to be so sad to know there is no more school until late August.

The transition from teacher to parent is definitely humbling and mildly uncomfortable. Benjamin is my son, but he makes his own choices in life. What he does in 4 hours with other people has some reflection on who I am as a parent to him, but ultimately he is his own being making his own decisions. It's hard not to feel the pressure though, especially coming from my teacher shoes. It should be interesting when the years press on and the teacher-parent relationships really start to warm up. I already feel tense.


Sneaker Teacher said... [Reply to comment]

Grace will be switching daycares in August from an in home daycare to a more structured program in a facility. I am so nervous because she LOVES her current daycare and I am afraid she will feel abandoned if we leave her with adults and kids she doesn't know. I am thinking of calling it "school" so she thinks it's just a new exciting adventure. I am so afraid she is going to cry and not want to stay. Fortunately/unfortunately daddy is the one to drop her off, so maybe that will be a good thing in that she won't sense my concerns and he is much more laid back.

Brie said... [Reply to comment]

I love your take on things from the parent perspective. Do you plan to join PTA etc once he hits elementary? I'm undecided on that one but would love to be a parent volunteer.

LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

I really like the idea of 2.5 year olds in preschool because, like you said, they can communicate. Even if not perfectly, they can let you know about big important things. Like if they got bit, or pushed or something we'd really like to know about.

We are starting a morning program in the fall too. I'm nervous, but the social/structural aspect is best for Avery. During and just after college, I was a preschool 'teacher' in the 2 year old classroom. I think if B bit someone, they would file an incident report and let you know. At least that is what we would have to do.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

holding his lunchbox and getting in the car - SO cute, what a little man.

Nicole said... [Reply to comment]

He looks so big! Glad he enjoyed school. And what about that appetite!? Wow!

I've never put Addalee (or Abigail) in any sort of program. Addalee is painfully shy, just as I was at her age. She won't stay in the nursery in church, so I would hate to try something like this and scar her for life. Or is that scar me for life? Ha.