The end of the year is here and I have to admit, I’m struggling with it. Not because of the dread of figuring out how to occupy the long summer days, but because it means saying goodbye to our school. We are no strangers to change, but this one is going to be different.
My daughter started “school” when she was two and we switched when she started VPK. That was easy; peace out old school don’t let the red door hit you on the way out! Even my daughter, whose only experience was with those teachers and in that building was fine with the move. Of course, the new school made a big difference too; you see we found the sweetest most magical little fairy garden of a school nestled near the Atlantic ocean.
The Playgarden By the Sea just sucks you in as soon as you walk through its gate.
It embodies what I believe early childhood education should be: storytelling, socializing, nature, art. And all of this happens through PLAY. There are trees to climb and fruits to pick and eat and gardens to grow! The teachers are all so cheerful and most importantly, they love the children and are passionate about what they are doing. It has an essence that is hard to explain, you simply feel great when you are there.
We only planned to stay one year, but we loved it so much that we decided to forgo traditional kindergarten and send her to their forest program. (see below for links to learn more about what Forest Kindergarten is!). It was the best decision ever. But now, NOW the end of the year is here and we are faced with the reality of moving on.
My daughter has already shed a few tears about the move. She says she changed her mind, she wants to stay in Kindergarten and go into the forest again next year. UUUHHHGGHHH. Me too! I want to bottle you up and keep you this age forever, but I can’t. You can’t. We must move on. Somehow, we must move on. This is equally difficult for me as well. The play garden is more than a school, it is a community. While my daughter has created deep friendships with the kids in her class, I too, have made strong ties with their parents. I don’t want to say goodbye. I have some of the same fears my daughter has, just on the parent flip side: what if I don’t like any of the new parents? What if the teachers are so burnt out with all the ridiculous expectations heaped upon them that they are over it? What if she doesn’t learn what she is supposed to? What if they try to teach her too much and she doesn’t have enough “down” time?
So, how? HOW am I going to say goodbye? I have read so many posts about moms crying when their baby went off to Kindergarten, I didn’t shed a single tear, I was so happy about where she was and she was so happy about it too … but now? Oh no, now!?? Now she will be going into first grade. But not only that she is going into a big girl school. Is that the breaking point? It’s not that your baby is starting K or 1st grade, it’s that you see the other kids, the BIG kids in the same school. They are a slap of reality in your face; your sweet cherub is going to be there before you know and it’s almost too much bear in that moment!
Okay, deep breath. First, I am actually very excited and have high hopes for her new school (and for the teachers, the kids, and their parents). I think it will be wonderful. And secondly, I suppose I should take the advice I am inevitably going to give my daughter: yes, change is hard, but such is life, change is also how we grow and learn. We will take one day at a time and each challenge as it comes. When we feel sad, scared or overwhelmed, we will lean on each other, duck our heads and come out on the other side better for it. Lastly, as the song we learned at Seaside goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold. A circle is round, it has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend.” (not going to lie, it makes me weepy), we will treasure the time we have spent at this school, hold on to the friends we have made and boldly go where so many have gone before: First Grade at a new school!
Aaaaand if none of that works, we still have SUMMER!!!!! Yes, summer – the beach, popsicles, late nights, pool parties – will make everything better!
QUESTIONS for you! How did you work through this transition from preschool to big kid school? How did you deal with the fear of the unknown; changing schools at any age?
RESOURCES for you to learn more about Forest Kindergarten: