Originally, we never planned on Camden attending preschool especially since we intend to homeschool our children. However, since we’ve only recently moved to Bellingham we don’t have enough social contact yet and living in a tiny apartment without a yard has really placed a damper on the activities we have available. We decided that a preschool would help Camden get all the social contact that she craves while also allowing her to get messy, loud and run around like little kids should. I searched around for awhile and I believe I have found the perfect match of a preschool for us. Their philosophy about childhood and what it should entail and how children learn best really fits with our own philosophy and the way they have the environment set up is wonderful. They have a very unschooled/homeschooled approach to education and believe that children learn best through play and at their own pace. There is no “formal” education that takes place. Rather the environment is stimulating and flexible. The children go outside to play no matter what the weather and they are expected to get dirty. You have to supply a change of clothes every day. The snacks are organic and homemade. Parents are welcome in the classroom and each parent is expected to volunteer some time to the class every year. The teachers are wonderful. They are not commanding and they do not speak demeaningly to the children. They leave the children to solve their own problems but are nearby to guide them and step in, if necessary. Being at this school makes me want to be a kid again because if I was a kid this is the kind of place I’d want to be at every day.
As great as the school is it was pretty weird for me to just drop her off there. Here is something I wrote yesterday (her first day) after I took her to school for the first time. Excuse the redundancy.
Camden’s first day of preschool was today and it was absolutely perfect but so weird for *me*. It wasn’t that I couldn’t stand being separated from her or anything but it was just so strange to send her off to become a part of a world that was not mine to share with her.
We never intended on ever enrolling Camden in a preschool since we’ve always intended to homeschool/unschool her but she just needs a lot of social interaction and outdoor/physical play and I haven’t been able to fulfill those needs for her since we’ve moved here into a tiny apartment and thus far we have no social life here. So I decided the best thing to do through the winter is allow her to make some social connections and find her a school where she could also blossom physically and get messy and do art and all that jazz. I feel very blessed to have found the perfect preschool match for us and she is just tickled to pieces over her new school.
However, it is so strange to drop her off somewhere and just leave her there. There’s been plenty of times I have left her with other people but they’ve always been family or friends. I think more than leaving her somewhere it is strange that she now has a private piece of her life that is just for her. She can choose to share her experiences with us or keep them to herself. It is a vital step in life for her to have something like that but it is just strange at the same time. I’m so used to knowing her better than anyone and sharing every experience with her. I’ve been there for every single first in her life and there to share her disappointments, her rages, her joys. Now I am finding myself in un-ventured territory because now I get to learn who my daughter is in a social environment of 20+ kids rather than 8, at most. In addition it is just a wake up call that Camden is my daughter, but her life is not my life, it is hers. I obviously knew that before but sending her off to preschool is a very eye opening manifestation of that. None of this is bad, just different and strange and unknown.