At the onset of any new activity, Sam tends to hold back being more of the observant/shy kind than the kind that jumps straight into the thick of things. She’s always sought the comfort of my lap and stayed there until she felt confident enough to venture out on her own. If she was abruptly brought into a new situation where I wasn’t there, it would most likely end in tears. That’s why we had to discontinue the lunch in school with her friends, because her teachers would call me 15 minutes into it, saying she was crying inconsolably looking for me. It helped that with her current school, the first week of class was dedicated to what they called staggered entry, where the parents were allowed to stay for a given amount of time in the classroom, and decrease it slowly throughout the week until the kids could be left for the entire half day.
However this coming school year, we decided to move Sam to the Montessori Academy, which is actually right next door to her current school (I will go ahead and say that there was nothing wrong with her current school to begin with. In fact I would still recommend it to people in a heartbeat. But we did look at other schools and opted for the Montessori Academy because we just felt that over-all it fit Sam’s changing needs best for now). So you can imagine I started to worry again about the initial shyness hurdle (The Montessori Academy doesn’t have the staggered entry strategy).
Raising this concern with the Program Directors, they offered a “transition day” for Sam to get acquainted with some of the children in her class as well as her future teacher. The intention was to familiarize herself so that when her actual school would start in August, then there wouldn’t be a hitch.
Now I will have you know that Sam is a water baby. She absolutely LOVES the water, and has absolutely no fear about entering or jumping into a pool with or without any floaters on her (Not so good for my wrinkles and worry lines). So when they mentioned that Wednesday would be a water day at school, I immediately picked it to be THE day.
I prepped her about her new school, made her practice saying that she needed to go to the potty so she could tell her teacher, and I had her pick out her packed snack and lunch. I think I was more nervous than she was because I lost sleep the night before, and she didn’t.
That morning dressed in her water gear and smelling like sunblock, I brought her to school. When we entered the classroom Cathy the teacher immediately told the kids to welcome Samantha, and I could see she took a step back (she hates being the center of attention). I held my breath, but somehow persisted and told her to sit and sing with them while I turned over her things to the teaching assistant and fixed the paperwork. I then said goodbye and told her I’d be back for her later, and left while Cathy was busying her with some of the educational toys they had. She was too distracted that she hardly waved goodbye, but at least she didn’t run after me or whimper. The Directors assured me they would call if she started to cry and wanted me back, but otherwise I said she could stay for the entire three and a half hours if no problems occurred.
I must have held my breath for the entire 3.5 hours because I was dizzy and lightheaded the rest of the day, but surprisingly — and thankfully — I didn’t get a call. In fact I ended up calling them, thinking that maybe they forgot about me, and was relieved to hear that she was “having a blast“.
When I arrived at 12nn I found her comfortably running around and playing with her new friends, and when she saw me she didn’t want to leave. They said she easily and immediately assimilated herself with the other kids and thoroughly enjoyed their water activity. She ate all her food and went to the bathroom without a hitch. And when I finally was able to pull her away saying that we needed to go home, she waved goodbye like she’d known them for ages. “I had fun mom”, was what she said to me when we walked out. “I want to go back to Montessori mom!”
Later that day I got the pictures from the water activity — proof that Sam didn’t hesitate to participate.
Maybe she’s older and knows better. Maybe it’s the same building (just a different room and a different teacher) and therefore somewhat familiar. Maybe it was all the prepping, or maybe it was the teacher — or all of the above. They all contributed to the day’s success. But really without a doubt in my mind, I’d say we had her at “splash day”!
When the Program Directors offered me another transition day, the first question out of my mouth was “When will the pool and the water slide be out again?”