When I started thinking about preschools for Macey last year, I was mostly concerned with how I was going to handle the logistics of getting her to preschool and Camden to kindergarten. I had already nixed Camden's preschool (which we adored) off the list of contenders for Macey because of their location-- which is in the opposite direction of Camden's kindergarten. And so the search for convenient schools led me to a small preschool literally 3 minutes from our neighborhood. The commute was like a dream come true, so I hoped the school would be a perfect fit for Macey.
My hesitations started early on. When I toured the school with a friend, we commented to each other that the classrooms were pretty sparse; they were dark (no windows) and had very few toys. This was in stark contrast to Camden's old preschool, which was bright and happy and overflowing with toys. But, I decided to give it a shot anyway, because that kind of convenience commute-wise is hard to come by.
Unfortunately, my reservations only grew as the school year began. Macey came home with a lot of worksheets, which she had just scribbled on because hello-- she's three. There were other things I wasn't thrilled about-- the fact that they rarely went outside to the playground, that the teachers were forbidden to help the kids in the bathroom-- but there wasn't anything awful. In fact, the teachers were very pleasant and Macey quickly made friends with a couple of little girls in the class.
Then one afternoon, I came to pick her up from school and was immediately told that she needed to learn how to get her shoes off and on by herself. As it turns out, there was a bounce house at recess that day, and the kids were not allowed to get in unless they could take their shoes off without assistance. Macey struggled with hers and got upset when she wasn't offered help. Keep in mind that, with her late August birthday, she is the youngest child in her class (the cut-off date in NC is August 31, one day after Macey's birthday). So, as I later told the director, while I totally understand and support teaching children independence and self-sufficiency, it must be done within reason. That was the day I knew I was done.
These days, Macey is attending Camden's old preschool. How'd I swing what I once thought was logistically impossible? Thankfully, my friend drives Camden to school every day, which frees up my mornings to drive Macey in the opposite direction to preschool. I am so thankful it's worked out the way it has.
The day Macey and I set foot back in Camden's old preschool, it felt like coming home. We were welcomed so warmly, and Macey loves everything about preschool now. She's learning through play (side note: this school has a rule that no worksheets are allowed in the 3-year-old classroom because-- surprise, surprise-- they're not developmentally appropriate). Her teachers (Camden's former teachers) are two of the most genuine, amazing women I've ever met; they love their job and it shows in the way they interact with the kids.
While I initially agonized over making this change (and cried, and agonized some more), I have no doubt that it was absolutely the right decision for Macey. And I learned some valuable lessons along the way, too: don't choose a school solely based on convenience. Just don't. And that little voice in the back of your head trying to nudge you in a different direction? Stop ignoring her.
Macey's first day at her new school. She was so excited to have a tote bag like "bro" used to.
Coming home after her Thanksgiving party at school. I love the pure joy on her face. If I ever feel like questioning my decision again, all I have to do is look at this picture.