Monday, March 14, 2011

Georgia's Preschool for Babies

It's been ages since I wrote anything about Georgia's preschool progress or separation anxiety or whatever we're calling it these days, I guess because there wasn't a whole lot to report after we pulled her out. Our whole family was immediately happier for it and certainly didn't miss the stress of getting out the door on time.  Others may disagree, but Joe and I are still 100% confident that we made the right choice for Georgia. 

But that still left the question of what to do between November 2010 and the Fall of 2011 when we hope and assume that she'll take a more successful stab at going to preschool.  We didn't want to just sit back and rely solely on the idea of "she'll mature with age" as the solution, (although I really want to believe that theory since nothing else seems to have much effect).  So, it's been baby steps.  For example, Georgia started a Little Gym class where the parents are supposed to sit outside the room, and she's gone from an approximately 5% participation rate in Week 1 (while I was still in the room, of course), to maybe a 60% participation rate in Week 5, during which she *gasp!* even managed to allow Joe to leave the room for 5 whole minutes.  Also, she attended a free trial ballet class that my sister was sweet enough to take her to, but enough tears were shed that Beth recommended not bothering to sign her up until Georgia requests to go back, which I don't expect to happen anytime soon.  (Never mind that I came home from work that day to find her still in her leotard with her hair in a bun, and here we are two months later and she's still playing imaginary ballet class at home.  I wonder what the neighbors think when they see a pregnant lady doing haphazard pirouettes and plies through our kitchen windows?  But I digress...)  So, it's a balancing act.  We want her to expand her comfort zone, but we won't needlessly force her to do activities that are supposed to be fun if they're just anxiety producing to her.  We want her to try new things, but I'm not really interested in spending a lot of money on summer day camps or art classes if we're just paying to have her sit on the sidelines, you know?  Joe and I also volley between thinking, "If it were 1973, (or if we lived somewhere else in this world other than our own little socio-economic slice of America), there would be none of these classes, and she'd be at home and relaxed, and no one would be stressing about this stuff," and thinking, "Well, it's not 1973.  And if she's got something that amounts to a real problem here, aren't we lucky that there are more modern day resources to help address it at an earlier age?" 

Enter "Georgia's Preschool for Babies."  Also known as the once a week, hour and a half long parent & tot "class" that we've been attending at a nearby Montessori school.  I say "class" because really you  go in and do whatever you want to do, just playing with their various Montessori toys, er, I mean work stations.  This was all supposed to be part of a grand plan where Georgia would attend the 10 week long parent & tot class to get used to the place, then move on to the transition class for 3 year olds that meets at the same school once a week, and then be totally on board for attending regular preschool there in the Fall.  That's still the plan, actually, it's just that I don't think the phase-in approach is going to work.  We'll see.  Every week Georgia asks me, "How many more weeks do the mommies and daddies get to come?"  So she already seems anxious about the change.

The funny thing is that Georgia is over two years older than many of the kids in this class.  You see, when I originally looked into signing her up, she was just over three years old, so the fact that the class age cutoff was 2 1/2 didn't seem important.  But she was closer to 3 1/2 by the time the class started, and then I discovered that the bottom of the age range is 18 months, and some of the parents have fudged and enrolled their toddlers early.  So it's basically a bunch of June-aged kids in there who aren't too coordinated and mostly can't speak, and then Georgia, who goes around using words like "certainly", "ridiculous", and "revisit".  She doesn't seem to care much about the obvious age gap, but she is such a little imitative actress that from time to time she looks around the classroom and starts acting very babyish, even changing the way she walks and speaks.  Also, when the little ones tantrum she looks at me so bewildered like, "Mommy, why is he crying?"  (I guess in her old age she prefers to save her fits for home?)  

So there you have it.  Gold star for anyone still reading.  And feel free to share your thoughts on Montessori if you have any.  I've always been intrigued by it and have even tried to incorporate some of its principles at home (or what I think its principles are), but I honestly don't know much about it.  On the one hand, I think back to the fact that Georgia did not do well with the free time at her old school and therefore wonder if the less structured nature of Montessori would be a bad fit for her.  On the other hand, we've noticed that she has far less problem getting comfortable with teachers and other adults than she does interacting with larger groups of children, so a setting in which she gets to choose her own path rather than always going along with the herd (so to speak) might be good.  Also, Montessori seems big on extolling the benefits of mixed age classrooms, but I think Georgia suffered for being the youngest in her class at her old school and having a lot of 5 year olds around wasn't very helpful.  But maybe that class just wasn't as evenly mixed as it should've been?

No grand conclusion here.  No complaints, just felt like sharing. 


Danni said...

Poor Georgia. Hopefully she'll still like having you around this much when she's a teenager.

Danni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate said...

Can you blame her, Danni? I mean, we are pretty darn cool, right? : )

Susan said...

I don't know much about Montessori, but are you friends with Dena on FB? She's like the prinicpal (or whatever they call it) of a Montessori school. Your phase-in approach sounded like a good one to me :)

Anonymous said...

Gold Star! - Tom T.

PS - you are great parents. All kids progress in different ways at their own rate. I am a firm believer that she will be ready for large groups of kids in her own time. Non-issue.

Kate said...

aw, thanks, Tom. Of course we make ourselves out to be great parents on our own blog! ; ) You are right, though -- I sometimes get stressed out about all of this stuff and have to remind myself how lucky we are in the grand scheme of things. Tsunamis and earthquakes have a way of throwing everything into perspective REAL fast.