As the summer came and went and it was time for back to school shopping I got more and more anxious about sending my little one off to school. It didn't help that my daughter was also nervous about her knew adventure. I tried really hard to stay positive and upbeat at all times, continually telling her how much fun she was going to have. I knew it was going to be a major adjustment for both of us and was determined to be prepared.
* We read a lot of books about going to kindergarten and the first day of school.
* I involved my daughter with picking out her own school supplies to try and get her excited.
* The elementary school organized a play group every Wednesday in August at the school. I took her every week and we got to meet teachers and other kids in her class. This was also a great way for me to meet the teachers, ask questions and talk with other parents.
* I went to all the school orientations an open houses.
* Just before school started I organized a little space in our kitchen that included her daily schedule as well as her weekly fine arts schedule. This way every night I could prepare her for the next school day.
* We drove by her school a few times and would talk about where the bus will drop her off, her bus route and where she needs to go.
* A few weeks before school started, I got her adjusted to going to bed and waking up earlier.
The first day of school came and I had to fight back my tears as my little 5 year old was crying her eyes out that she didn't want to go to school. For the first time in my life I had to put her on the bus and give up control. No longer was I the one driving her around and taking her to school. No longer could I be with her and make sure she was safe. I now had to rely on the bus driver to get her to school safely and the teacher to teach and protect her all day. As the bus pulled up and stopped at our driveway I held back the tears as she stepped on the bus and the door closed behind her. I waived goodbye and stood there as the bus drove out of site. I held it together up until this point and then I lost it. The tears just rolled down my face and I was a mess. I had imagined this day and played it out over and over in my head. As much as I thought I was prepared I definitely wasn't.
The first day actually went by pretty fast. I would catch myself checking her schedule and wondering what she was doing. I waited patiently for the bus to drop her off that first afternoon. I watched as every kid got off the bus, but there was no Paige. My worst fear quickly washed over me, my stomach dropped and I almost went into panic mode. Where was my daughter? I managed to walk over to the bus driver and ask if there was a little girl named Paige on the bus. She called for her and slowly her little head popped out of the seat. Oh, thank goodness! As I was trying to pull myself together I was instantly having to deal with her crying and complaining that she was tired and didn't want to go back to school.
Remember, she only went to preschool 3 days a week for 3 hours a day. She was now going 5 days a week from 8:00 to 3:20. All day, everyday. As much as I thought I was prepared, I was not at all prepared for her extreme exhaustion. She hated going all day. She hated all the walking. She hated all the work. She hated gym. She hated it all. Every night and every morning she would cry that she didn't want to go to school. It was a long 2 weeks, but eventually she began to like school. She got to meet new friends and she loved her teacher. Thankfully, so did I. I even e-mailed her the first week letting her know how much Paige hated gym. Her teacher was kind enough to give me updates and check on her while she was in gym class. She was fantastic and I could not have asked for a better teacher. Paige learned to read and write and is now reading entire books on her own and I contribute it Mrs. Mitchell.
To thank her for a wonderful year a bunch of us parents went in on a large combined gift. Even though I contributed to the gift, I also wanted to give the teacher and the helper in the class something small.