It's a Sunday afternoon. Bill and Calla have gone to the Children's Museum of Memphis, or the Zeeum - as Calla calls it, to play for an hour or so, and I am stealing a few moments to tell you how excited we are about Calla's new school, The Natural Learning School! We attended an orientation meeting and potluck dinner at her school a few days ago. We were very impressed! As usual, I don't have much time to share all the details, but I'll share a few highlights:
The school is a Reggio Emilia style school that goes through grade five, I believe. If you're interested in learning more about Reggio Emilia, you might find this link to the school's philosophy to be interesting. Reggio Emilia schools are often described as being "like a Montessori, but not as structured." This isn't really a very good definition, but it's not untrue, either. The school is located in Midtown, not very far from our home, but in a different neighborhood (Cooper-Young). Calla will be in the first class at NLS's new Infant/Toddler community.
For the orientation, the parents met in one building, while the kids were playing in another building (under the supervision of some of the teachers from the school). I had been worried that Calla would get upset because she would be separated from us. Please understand, she is almost never away from me and her dad at the same time. We've used babysitters maybe four times since she was born. Nonetheless, she was not upset when we left her (we had been explaining what was going to happen, so maybe that helped). She mostly was interested in checking out her school and the other kids.
Bill and I joined the other parents and the teachers for the Infant/Toddler Community, along with the Director of the school and the Director of Education for the school for the orientation meeting. We recognized a few faces among the parents; a family we remembered from Itsy Bitsy Yoga when Calla was an infant was there, and also a woman who attended prenatal yoga classes with me was there with her husband. An interesting observation about the other parents: Based on the introductions, I'm pretty sure the majority of them are professors from Rhodes, University of Memphis, and Christian Brothers. The teachers and staff made a great first impression on Bill and me, and Calla, too! Very warm, friendly, smart women who love children, as you'd expect.
We learned that the faculty at NLS want to learn as much as they can about how Calla's day goes at home, so they can be more like an extension of our home instead of being different. They intend to respect her nap time and sleeping preferences, for example. Also, when I asked them about Elimination Communication and began to explain how Calla uses the potty at home, they expressed interest in learning all about it and assured me that they will take care of Calla's potty needs at school in the same manner we do at home. Such a relief! They encourage breastfeeding mothers to come to the school and nurse their children in addition to or instead of pumping. There are so many things they do that impress me. Especially their approach to discipline, which seems nearly identical to our own style (best described as gentle discipline, I suppose). I also like that there will be one teacher, whomever Calla naturally prefers, who will be her primary caregiver (not that the other teacher will ignore her, of course).
When the orientation ended, we went to the other building for the potluck and to be reunited with Calla. When we walked in the door, I was looking around for Calla. When I finally saw her, she had burst into tears, and I thought my heart would just break! The teacher who was with her explained that Calla had been fine until the other parents began returning and she didn't see Bill and me right away. She went on to say, "Calla was our role model..." I'm not sure what she meant by that, because I couldn't finish the conversation, but it sounded like a good thing. Calla calmed down right away and started showing Bill and me around her school and playing.
She absolutely loved it! For two days, any time we got into the car, she would happily announce, "I going school!" and be quite disappointed when she discovered we weren't on our way to school! We'll see how she likes it when it's a full day 9-3, instead of a few hours.
She will begin on August 25. She is to attend on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 am - 3 pm. Her classmates in the building range in age from about six months through around three years of age. I believe there are about seven children and two teachers (plus an additional art teacher) who will be there with her each day.
Just in the last week I've noticed that my usually VERY clingy daughter is definitely becoming more independent. Although it's a very odd feeling when she goes off to another room without me, I'm happy for her that she feels secure to venture out a bit away from mama and play or explore on her own a bit. I can't imagine what it will be like with her away for six hours a day! I think I'll miss her so much! It will be nice to get chores and errands done more efficiently and devote myself more fully to her on the days when she is home. I am also looking forward to her being able to play with other children each week and make new friends and have adventures with them.