The Last Day

Today was Isabella's last day of preschool. From September until today, every Tuesday and every Thursday (with the exception of holidays and school breaks; she never missed a day due to illness), she attended the semi-cooperative preschool inside the Unitarian Church with this important sign on the outside.

The preschool is not affiliated with the church, but for years before Isabella was preschool age, I would drive by the building, and catch quick glimpses of students playing on the playground and think to myself that this is where I could see her going to school when the time came.
I knew nothing about the school then. Hadn't had a tour. Hadn't yet heard the effusive praise friends and acquaintances had for the school.
Within a five-mile radius of my home, there are probably 20 preschools. And yet I could not be happier with the one I chose for Isabella's first school experience.
Here she is on her first day of school last September. Her excitement level was off the charts.
And here she is this morning, before school.

In many ways beyond appearance, she is a different kid now than the one she was in September.

She is so much more confident in social situations and in public. She can almost write her entire name legibly ("S" and "B" are her problem letters). Her drawings and paintings have progressed from scribbles and brush strokes to identifiable objects and shapes. She adapted to the rhythm and structure of preschool life beautifully, and her teacher called her a "Mary Poppins child-perfect in every way" at her mid-year parent-teacher conference. I had a good laugh over that one because, hello? Come live at my house, teacher lady, and I think you may have a slightly different opinion of my daughter.

She did have a few days of tears during the transition to her third and final "homeroom" back in March. The school has three separate, themed rooms and each class spends 1/3 of the school year in each room, although they are free to visit the other two rooms daily. Her final "homeroom" is designed to allow kids more free-play (there is a slide/climber, huge wooden blocks, and play mats) and Isabella was completely in love with the easels, play-doh, and art projects set up each morning in the other two rooms, so she cried a few times as I was leaving, but her teacher assured me each time that the tears lasted no more than 30 seconds after I had left.

She didn't experience separation anxiety, she didn't contract the bubonic plague, and she certainly wasn't bored. Sorry to disappoint you, grandma.

I am so incredibly proud of her and how well she did in school this year. She had a wonderful class of kids. No bullies. No problems whatsoever. She bonded with an adorable little boy and he became her best preschool buddy. She developed an affection for his daddy, but perhaps the affection was really for him. Her teacher and the assistant teachers were kind and nurturing. The parents I chatted with every Tuesday and Thursday morning at drop-off became my friends, and some became my running buddies. I met even more great parents through the two committees on which I served. In a lot of ways, I'm sad that her year has ended, which sounds ridiculous. The experience has been great for both of us.

And now it's summer vacation. Isabella is attending a two-week camp at her preschool beginning next week. She's taking swimming lessons at my health club beginning at the end of June. She has an animal camp at the children's science museum in July, and a royalty camp (which I was assured was about castles, coats of arms, and great feasts and not princesses and tiaras) in August. We are hoping to take a trip to Sesame Place (have you been there?) in August as well.

In September, she starts attending the same preschool four afternoons a week. She's enrolled in their program for four-year-olds, which is designed to prepare students for kindergarten while still focusing on learning through play. I think she is going to love it. I will be on the preschool's board in the fall, co-chairing the Publicity committee.

One year from September, she'll get on a bus and head to kindergarten.

How is that even possible?

8 Responses to “The Last Day”

  1. # Blogger Mom24

    I'm so glad you both had a lovely experience. Trust me, kindergarten will be here before you know it.  

  2. # Blogger Christine

    Wow I can't believe how big she's gotten in the span of less than a year! Seriously, if you end up overnighting it in PA after Sesame Place, let me know, I'll meet you in Bucks County for a drink somewhere. I think Sesame Place is only a half an hour or so from mah house in Philly.

    And if you do an overnight, you might as well stay in Philadelphia, do the day in Sesame and then hit up a museum before leaving. We have some great ones. :) Goodness, I feel like I work for the tourism board.  

  3. # Blogger Holly at Tropic of Mom

    Damn. I never took a last-day-of-school picture. My boy's last day was two weeks ago. And double damn, he can't write a single letter. Apparently he has fine motor skill delays. Isabella is so sweet and cute and smart and she is going to run for president someday.  

  4. # Blogger Melissa

    Woo hoo!! She's grown so much - incredible!! You must be so proud.


    It seems like just yesterday Bridget started preschool, and now she's off to kindergarten in the fall. We've been with the same preschool teacher for the past four years (Jacob was there), so I'll definitely have some mixed emotions about leaving. :-(  

  5. # Anonymous Stephanie

    Oh goodness the time flies, doesn't it!?! I'm so glad she's had a good experience. With an almost 2 year old and one almost 3 year old, we're doing the "eek - what do we do now" thing. The preschool format you found sounds perfect. There are some out in my area that want the kids there M-F from 9:00-3:00. That's not preschool, that's a job. But I love the Tue & Thur morning idea! Perfect!  

  6. # Anonymous Lisanne

    I *love* that sign.

    Congratulations on her big milestone!!!  

  7. # Blogger JM

    That sign would be a big selling point for me too. And I cannot believe she has already been through pre-school! That time flew, as I am sure you know.  

  8. # Blogger Heather

    Kindergarten... the thought just floors me. It flies by, doesn't it?  

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