Just before Riley turned three I started to think about preschool. Not in an immediate sense, but that we should probably transition Riley from her in-home daycare (which we love, love, love) to an environment with a curriculum at some point. I was going to mention it to Jesse, but was concerned that he wouldn't want to move her from her current daycare (see above: love, love, love) so I held off for the moment.
When we took Riley in for her three year wellness check our pediatrician highly recommended we think about preschool. Again, I thought Jesse might be hesitant, but he was all over it. All of a sudden, I was the apprehensive one. I wasn't sure what that was about at the time, but while Jesse kept saying we had to start doing our research I didn't take any action on it even though I knew it was the best thing to do.
Eventually, (after Jesse sent me an email filled with local preschools) I started setting up tours to check places outs. Turns out that searching for preschools in April for a start date in September is late - for some places it was a year too late (note to self: you may want to start the kindergarten search any day now). The preschools we looked at varied in cost, curriculum, philosophy, hours of operation, and so on. We weren't sure what exactly we were looking for, but had a general idea and hoped that one of the places would click for us. We toured a total of five places (two of which did not have any openings for September) and ended up applying to two (one of which we are on a waiting list because of said lack of openings).
The preschool that we are on the wait list for is a pretty awesome place, but it's also a big jump in cost. I hate to say it, but I'm secretly (or not so secretly) hoping their wait list doesn't open up (we are second on the list)... partly because of the cost, but also because I don't want to have to make a decision between two preschools when I've already got it in my head that we'll be taking Riley to the other one.
I've found this whole process interesting and exhausting and way more emotional than I thought it would be. Riley is growing in leaps and bounds... doing and saying new things everyday. She is SO ready for preschool. She NEEDS this. It's like she wants to learn new things ALL THE TIME. So this will be a good thing for her. I'm the one that needs to adjust.
Yeah, that brings me back to my apprehension. Once I started to think about it more I realized that this is probably typical mom stuff. My baby is no longer my baby. She's a big girl and it's probably more scary for me to be sending her into a new environment than it will be for her. She's way more adaptable than I remember myself being.
As a kid I stayed at home with my mom until I was three years old. It was at that time that my parents divorced and I ended up with my dad. I ended up going to two different in home daycare's (one fantastic, one served powered milk - enough said) and one day care center (hated this place - made me a little scared of centers) over a span of a few years. Plus, once I started school I was in three different schools by second grade, four different schools by 4th grade. I was a pretty shy kid so I don't think I handled change quite as well as Riley, but I still don't want her to go through that. I want her to feel some stability.
That's also why I am leaning towards the program that the city runs. I'm betting that most of those kids will move onto the same school that Riley will when kindergarten starts. And if she is lucky enough to make it into the Spanish Immersion school by the time she hits kindergarten she'll actually end up in the same building. A nice familiar place. On top of that we like the curriculum (there is an online component that we can do with her), the staff is very established there, great location near our house, big and bright rooms, a reasonable price... it seems like a great place.
So our decision has been made (barring an opening at that other place). I hope it was the right one. We've even put off a big trip we had planned to see family in Luxembourg in September to make sure this transition wasn't too overwhelming. We've been talking with Riley about going to school and she seems pretty excited about it, but I don't think she understands yet that she won't be going to Char's house (our current daycare) in a few months anymore. I know she will miss Char (we all will), but I know she will adapt. She's surprised me many times when she's been faced with something new at how well she does... even if she's a little shy at first.
It will be a big change, but a good one. And it will be the first of many future changes. Let's hope they aren't so overwhelming... for me that it, because I know she'll adjust faster than I will. She's a champ like that.